How the Resident Evil Films Could Have Been Improved
The fifth Resident Evil film is set to release next year, much to everyone’s dismay. We all know the series is beyond saving now, but I would like to hypothesise for a moment and voice what my thoughts on what I think would have made for a good Resident Evil film.
The biggest crime the Resident Evil films make is pretty much completely ignoring everything about the series. The character of Alice is the catalyst of all of this. The whole idea of the protagonists in any horror text, never mind Resident Evil is for them to be vastly outnumbered and outmatched by the horrors that surround them. The only way to survive is to use your brain rather than succumbing to the fear. Alice is none of that. She is some kind of superpowered human that only becomes more and more powerful as the films progress. At no point is she realistically in any danger, because she as just as powerful as any of the monsters she faces. Even other video game films are at least loosely based on the source material, where as in the films, some character names and locations are taken and the rest of it is completely ignored in favour of whatever sounds good to the Hollywood investors.
The first film should have been about STARS Alpha team investigating the disappearance of Bravo team and subsequently finding the mansion. All it literally would have needed is the same characters, their personalities and locations, and then they could have gone wherever they liked with it as long as it was a good film. You don’t need to include a scene where Jill plays the Moonlight Sonata and finds a secret room and emblem; you just need to make the film viewer think “Yes, this is a Resident Evil film.”
Silent Hill did it well enough. In that series’ benefit, the town itself is more of a main character than the actual cast and like I said in a news post earlier this week, they did a great job of capturing the town. Some of the famous locations were there; there was lots of fog and areas where the road just ended. Those little touches made it a whole lot better. The same can be said for that film’s story. It only took the theme of the first game but by including those themes, I didn’t have a problem with them deviating away from it, because they were still able to make a decent film out of it. As long as the Resident Evil film started with the remainder of Alpha Team entering the mansion and ended with Chris, Jill, Barry and Rebecca escaping from the mansion after being betrayed by Wesker and fighting the Tyrant, they could have done what they thought would be best in between that. Instead it was some kind of mess about some super powered character that has nothing to do with the games.
Another reason that the Resident Evil films missed the point of the series completely was through its over seriousness. I said in the RE5 film post that the series doesn’t exactly have the best storyline and that’s true. It doesn’t harm the games though, because while the story may not be particularly great, it’s fun and hooks you in for the ride. The main point I would make is that it knows what it is. By nature, zombie films can’t treat themselves seriously for the most part, unless they try and take a World War Z style approach.
It’s as simple as emulating what Resident Evil was inspired by in the first place, that being George A Romero’s “Of the Dead” films. Dawn of the Dead isn’t a great film because of its story. It’s a simple case of trying to escape from the zombie apocalypse. The only point it ever tries and makes and that we’re just like the zombies. It’s a great film though because it doesn’t take itself seriously. There’s a lot of dark humour involved and Romero knows we’re watching it because for the most part we just want to see some cheesy action and either people being overrun by zombies or zombies being killed in a number of fun and creative ways.
Instead, the Resident Evil films are about this very serious battle against Umbrella. Hell, Umbrella have always been a mystery in the games, they never just popped up like they do in the films. The actual zombies and monsters get ignored in favour for this supposedly faceless corporation. It should have made fun of itself. Even better, it should have made fun of the games themselves. I would. Be deliberately cheesy and fun, and have no shame in doing so, because while the film might not be intellectually engaging, it would be great to watch.
Those are two just two ways I think the Resident Evil films could have been better. Well, a third would be not to cast Milla Jovovich or let Paul WS Anderson direct it. EVER. Neither of them are good at their jobs at all. The sad thing is that the first film was originally meant to be directed and written by Romero himself. The supposed script for it is actually available to read, and we can only imagine what the film would have been like if Romero hadn’t been taken off the project.