There have been dozens of attempts to take successful video games and turn them into successful movies. Very few of them have been successful. Even the presence of Dwayne Johnson couldn't make a success out of "Doom," and plans to get a "Call of Duty" movie off the ground fell at the first hurdle even though the games have a fanbase of millions.
That means "Resident Evil" has already done exceptionally well. The horror gaming franchise has spawned several successful films starring Milla Jovovich, and although hardcore fans were unhappy with elements of the plot by the end, all of the films still made money.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that “Resident Evil” bucked the trend. There’s always a market for horror films (and zombie films especially), and a horror film that has a pre-existing fanbase is likely to do well no matter whether it’s linked to a video game or not. There was also a precedent for “Resident Evil” doing well away from the confines of traditional video games. The sixth “Resident Evil” was turned into an online slots game by a company called Skywind, and it remains online now almost three years after it was published. That’s never a guarantee with online slots, which tend to be taken down when they cease to be popular. It speaks volumes about the popularity of "Resident Evil" that it can sustain a tie-in online slots game long after the novelty has worn off. Maybe that's why the franchise is heading back to movie theatres.
We've known for a while now that there's a new "Resident Evil" film coming, and to say that fans had mixed feelings about it would be an understatement. The last series of movies strayed so far from the plot of the games that fans feared more of the same, and we've already had one bout of "Resident Evil" fever this year with the release of "Resident Evil: Village." The game was well-reviewed and continues to reach new players on next-generation consoles every say. There was also a feeling that the story had already been told on the big screen, so a new series of films wouldn't give us anything new. For the main part, those fears have been put to bed by the release of the first official trailer for "Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City.”
The first thing we should say about the trailer is that this film looks to have made a much stronger attempt to recreate the aesthetics of the early "Resident Evil" games than the Jovovich movies ever did. The sets are darker, and the music is more authentic. We spend more time watching the protagonists from above or behind than we did in the other films, which is surely a director's choice based on the camera angles of the first three games. We're even taken back in time to the 1990s, which is a nice nod to the time the first game was released. As scary as this might be to think about for those of us who grew up playing "Resident Evil" games, the first one is twenty-five years old now. It's as far in the past now as 1971 was when it came out for the PlayStation One. In fact, the console wasn't even called the PlayStation One back then because there had only ever been one PlayStation!
Aesthetics aren’t everything, but they mean a lot to those who want to see authenticity when they buy a ticket for a film based on their favourite game. The content of the film will be far more important to fans of horror, though. They’ll be looking for strong scares from the new film, and it looks like they’re going to get them. As Empire magazine noted while reviewing the trailer, the short clip promises us blood, beasts, and gore in abundance. Monsters like zombie dogs and "the licker" - classics from the game that could look silly to a modern audience - give us the same sense of fear we had when we first saw them in the 1990s. Something tells us that this will be a movie to avoid if you can't cope with jump scares.
The specific details of the plot will be kept under wraps until the first press screenings take place, but we've been given enough information to know what to expect. The plots of the first three movies have effectively been spliced together to give us a long-form narrative that involves multiple iconic characters. The story will begin with Claire Redfield (played by Kaya Scodelario) returning home to Raccoon City to find that a zombie outbreak has already taken hold, and she'll need the help of her brother Chris (played by Robie Amell) to survive and save the population. Kill Valentine (played by Hannah John-Kamen), and Leon S. Kennedy (played by Avan Jogia) will do their best to assist, as will a few other familiar digital faces. Based on the trailer, it looks like we'll be spending at least some time in the original Umbrella mansion. We hope the production crew have nailed those nerve-shredding squeaky wooden doors.
If this film is a success, we can almost certainly expect it to get a sequel. There are eight games in the prime "Resident Evil" canon as of the time of writing, plus several spin-offs. That means there's no shortage of material for scriptwriters if they want to keep telling the story that's been established in the games. Handling them three at a time should mean we make it to at least three films and possibly more. That's a long time in the future, though. For now, we should focus on looking forward to seeing this new generation of "Resident Evil" heroes making it to the big screen. Precisely when that happens is a little dependent on where you live in the world. A Halloween release date had once been hoped for, but sadly that won't be happening. If you live in the United States of America, you can get your latest fix of "Resident Evil" scares on November 24th. Most other territories around the world get their opening night on December 3rd. That’s less than two months away, so start planning your visit to Raccoon City. Be wary of the locals - they can get a little bitey!
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