Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (2021) Brings Audiences Back to a Newly Imagined Raccoon City
Title: Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
First Non-Festival Release: November 19, 2021 (Premiere
Director: Johannes Roberts
Writer: Johannes Roberts
Runtime: 107 Minutes
Starring: Kaya Scodelario, Robbie Amell, Hannah John-Kamen, Avan Jogia, Tom Hopper
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Claire Redfield (Kaya Scodelario) journeys to her hometown of Racoon City, a newly formed pseudo-ghost town, to track down a man she met on a chatroom. This man has dirt on the Umbrella Company, a powerful pharmaceutical company that performs insidious experiments in the secrecy of their massive underground and hidden facilities within Raccoon City, until recently. She meets up with her estranged brother Chris (Robbie Amell), a police officer for Raccoon City who must respond to the mysterious sirens blaring at midnight. Soon, they, along with a team of police officers, discover the disturbing consequences of the research of the Umbrella Corporation and why they decided to abandon ship.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is a healthy slice of shoot-em up survival horror that seeks to please fans and newbies alike.
There’s a lot going on in this film. As someone who knows absolutely nothing about the games, I understand that it’s essentially an amalgamation of two separate games, which shows. The editing makes it difficult to tell when things are happening or where exactly the action is at the time. Vacillating between so many perspectives hurts the momentum and makes it hard to focus on the development of the plot and characters. Speaking of which there aren’t many dimensions to the characters outside some brief lines of dialogue.
It gets expository at times, but it reminds me of moments in video games when lore is consistently dropped throughout the play, as to help the player learn more about the story without a full-on lecture. The dialogue gets pretty cringeworthy at times. Excessive swearing feels disingenuous and makes the dialogue feel even more stilted than it is already written. There’s also plenty of jokes that land but also feel out of place. It grates against the film’s otherwise relentlessly dark tone but they’re still funny so I can give it a pass.
Everyone is capable here and delivers a fine performance. The main cast is largely affable thanks to a strong ensemble, most notably Kaya Scodelario, Robbie Amell, Hannah John-Kamen, Avan Jogia, and Tom Hopper. Jogia’s narcoleptic rookie cop Leon Kennedy and John-Kamen’s extraordinarily accurate sharpshooter Jill Valentine are personal favorites for their more distinct and memorable moments. It’s a noticeable change from the original film series which focused mostly on Milla Jovovich’s Alice. That isn’t necessarily a point against the other films or one in favor for this series. It’s different and welcome either way.
It’s a rather dark film and most everything is given this decrepit and abandoned look. It looks cheap but that fits the narrative and builds the character of the town. The set pieces themselves are often elaborate and incredibly creepy. The mansion, the police station, the orphanage, the train, you name it, and it is unsettling. In fact, the world building of the failing city makes the film feel both intimate and grandiose in a way. Between secret tunnels and crumbling infrastructure, it’s a perfect setting for some tense action horror sequences that we are treated to for most of the film.
Of course, a movie like Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City isn’t built to be a masterpiece. It doesn’t have to be. The effects work is largely good. The monsters, both human and inhuman, are coated in slime, gore, and excess organs just waiting to abuse the outnumbered civilians at a moment’s notice. The film revs up fast once the action gets going. There are plenty of moments of tense and understated scares, but director Johannes Roberts prefers to go for the jugular whenever possible. Overall, it’s an enjoyable film that knows what it needs to do to make its audience squirm, jump, or cheer and that’s something to praise.
A shot of adrenaline in an otherwise middling film series, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City reboots to more levelheaded horror with fresh faces and a return to the horror of Racoon City. It’s certainly not without its problems, but Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City feels like fan service that still appeals to those with no knowledge or preconceived notions about the series. Fast-paced, bloody, and full of creepy creatures and characters, it’s the perfect film to turn off your brain and grab some popcorn to enjoy. No matter what your thoughts on the series are, this reboot is worthy of a trip down Raccoon City memory lane.
Overall Score? 6.5/10