Director – Johannes Roberts (Hellbreeder, Forest of the Damned)
Starring – Kaya Scodelario (Crawl, Clash of the Titans), Avan Jogia (Zombieland: Double Tap, Ted 2), and Tom Hopper (Game of Thrones, The Umbrella Academy)
Release Date – 2021
Rating – 3.5/5
I’m a pretty avid gamer. I grew up on the Sega Genesis cutting my teeth on games like Mortal Kombat, Rocket Knight Adventures, Eternal Champions, and Zero Tolerance. I always looked toward to the weekends and gaming with my older brother who would visit and bring in some new games to play together. I grew out of the Genesis and moved on to the original Playstation. When I say original Playstation I mean the old big grey block and not the slim and white PSOne. A lot of my friends were fans of Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, and so on but I found myself not really enjoying them. The clunky controls and horrible camera angles made them a miserable experience.
However, when I was in high school it was announced that Resident Evil was getting a live action adaptation. This really intrigued me and opening night I convinced my dad to let me go check it out. I’ve loved every installment of that series and I’m a huge fan of the three CG films as well. When I heard that a new Resident Evil reboot was in the works I was excited for it as well. I may not be much of a fan of the games but the movies are so much fun. Sadly, I missed Welcome to Raccoon City in theater because of the pandemic but was able to watch it at home over my Christmas break. It did not disappoint.
**Spoiler Alert** The film takes place in Raccoon City which is just a shell of it’s former self. When Umbrella was based in Raccoon City it was thriving but since then the town has fell to ruins as the only a skeleton crew is left to close the Umbrella facility. However, something else is taking over the city as the residents start to mutate into something sinister. The local police department, along with Claire Redfield (Scodelario), are trapped in a city that is trying to kill them and, to make matter even worse, if they don’t escape before 6 a.m. then they will perish as Umbrella plans on bombing the entire city to stop the spread of the virus. **Spoiler Alert**
I love the big budget sci-fi horror fare that is the original Resident Evil film series. There is nothing wrong with a mindless big budget sci-fi/horror hybrid like RE and other series like Underworld. However, Welcome to Raccoon City doesn’t feel like those. It’s a gritty and grounded horror film that relies on atmosphere and story to hit the viewer instead of long, drawn out action sequences. Honestly, it’s a great tribute to the game and really pays homage to the look and claustrophobic locations that makes the games enjoyed by so many.
The acting in this one is great. The cast did a fantastic job at bringing so many iconic characters to life in a much better sense than the first live action franchise. Kaya Scodelario doesn’t necessarily looks like the game version of Leon S. Kennedy which has drawn criticism from fans. However, I think he did a great job as the rookie who shows that he has what it takes to survive but is still green around the gills. Avon Jogia is solid as Claire and Tom Hooper is fantastic in his performance with his character showing so many different personality traits. It was also cool seeing Donal Logue as well. I wasn’t expecting to see him and he never disappoints. The supporting cast is fantastic as well but the characters just don’t stand out like the main cast of characters.
The story for this one seems to follow closely to the first game but I’m not one to know 100 percent. We follow a dying town who finds itself at the middle of a plague of infected residents with an evil pharmaceutical company behind the outbreak. As the local police department and some locals try to uncover who or what is behind it they soon uncover they are on a time crunch as a nuke will strike by a specific time. I actually enjoyed the story for what it is but it does drag it’s feet at times and I’m sure that it’s a bit predictable especially if you’ve played the games.
Finally, the film makes great use of practical and visual effects. The practical and make-up effects look good but the visual effects are the highlight of the film. Most of the CGI looks surprisingly well done. There is a few scenes where the visuals look off but it mostly look great and really makes the film even more enjoyable. Overall, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City was exactly as it should have been. It was dark, suspenseful, and I loved the visual effects. I seriously look forward to the next installment. Fans of Resident Evil and horror fans alike will enjoy this one.