Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is the best Resident Evil movie so far
There is a lot to like in this movie, but...
Yes, it is damning with faint praise, but this reboot of the cinematic Resident Evil franchise is the best big screen version of the series to date. It still isn't very good, but it isn't as if anyone had their expectations set particularly high, is it?
Back in the day, none other than George Romero was going to direct an adaptation of the original Resident Evil game, but instead it fell to Paul W.S. Anderson, who was "hot" off the back of his "hit" Mortal Kombat movie. For this reboot, they hired Johannes Roberts, the director of shark-cage movie 47 Meters Down and, eh, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged.
Roberts, who also doubles as the movie's screenwriter, does get some things right with Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City. Smartly recognising that some video games' plots won't hold the weight of an entire movie, he has essentially mashed together the plots for the first three Resident Evil games.
He's also amassed a great cast of game actors to play the iconic gaming characters, with Kaya Scodelario (as Claire Redfield), Avan Jogia (Leon S. Kennedy), Tom Hopper (Albert Wesker), Robbie Amell (Chris Redfield) and Hannah John-Kamen (Jill Valentine) all bringing their respective A-games.
Roberts clearly has a lot of love for the games themselves, with some big obvious nods to massively memorable scenes and set-ups given an almost religious reverence in places here, while fans will spot dozens of easter eggs scattered throughout.
The plot, such that it is, sees Claire heading back to the practically abandoned Raccoon City to reunite with her estranged brother Chris, and warn him that the Umbrella Corporation - which have set up their HQ in the town - are on the verge of a Chernobyl-level accidental leaking.
She arrives just a smidge too late though, as the leak has already begun, and the remaining local populace are slowly (and then rather rapidly) being turned into zombies. Umbrella set up a perimeter around the town, killing anyone who tries to escape, so the Redfields team up with local law enforcements (Wesker, Valentine, Kennedy) to try to find a safe way out.
Along the way, zombies attack. Over and over and over again.
There are a few more plot and character wrinkles along the way, but essentially, it is the same set-up as pretty much every zombie movie ever made. Or if you've seen 2010's very decent remake of The Crazies, it is essentially that movie again, but not as good.
Because despite all of the obvious homages to John Carpenter and George Romero, and the mid-90s setting actually helping the movie feel like it too was released in the mid-90s (in a good way!), the biggest bullet to the brain of this zombie movie is that it is quite simply never scary.
There is blood and there is gore and there are some pleasingly tense set-ups in places, but it never once delivers a proper scare, be it a decent jump-scare or a blood-chilling slow-burn terror.
Within the Resident Evil gaming universe, there are plenty of opportunities to adapt something brilliant: Resident Evil 4 is essentially Escape From New York but in a zombie-filled Spanish village; Resident Evil 7 is the Texas Chainsaw Massacre with actual monsters; while Resident Evil Village is basically Van Helsing with an 18s cert.
But with this movie, it is sadly just another zombie movie. It is never dull, but it is also never scary, and maybe the worst "compliment" you can pay to it is that it is the perfect horror movie for people who are too scared to watch horror movies.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is released in Irish cinemas on Friday, 3 December.