Resident Evil is the latest adaptation of the smash hit Capcom video game series, this time brought to our screens as a Netflix tv show. Airing only 7 months after the release of the last adaptation, the promising yet disappointing Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, this series has decided to try a change of tack with the plot and sadly it doesn’t manage to pull it off.
The story starts in 2036, where the T-virus decimated the human population. Survivors are holed up inside walled communities while zombies known as “zeroes” roam outside, along with mutated animals and creatures that have also succumbed to the virus. Jade Wesker (Ella Balinska) is conducting research on a pack of zeroes in London, while her husband Arjun (Ahad Raza Mir) and daughter remain at home. After cutting herself and being pursued by the pack of zeroes, as well as a gigantic bloodthirsty caterpillar, Jade is saved by scavengers who take her back to their camp.
Interspersed with the present day in 2036, we see scenes from Jade’s past in 2022 when Jade (Tamara Smart), her twin sister Billie (Siena Agudong) and their father Albert Wesker (Lance Reddick) move into their new home in New Raccoon City outside of Cape Town, South Africa. Albert is a top scientist with the Umbrella Corporation, and after seeing some questionable scenes in his office the girls decide to break in to find proof that Umbrella are up to no good. However, after inadvertently releasing a mutated dog, Billie is bitten and subsequently infected.
As the 14-year-old Jade tries to discover the truth about what’s happening at Umbrella, Billie struggles with the effects of the dog bite while Albert attempts to protect his daughters from shady CEO Evelyn Marcus (Paola Núñez). While the situation in 2022 New Raccoon City escalates as truths are revealed, in 2036 we discover that Jade is being hunted by Umbrella. With Umbrella’s agent Baxter (Turlough Convery) attempting to capture her alive, Jade flees through dangerous terrain and soon faces creatures more dangerous than zeroes as she tries to get back home.
I really respect the fact that his show has decided to take a different route with Resident Evil than what we’ve seen before. But unfortunately, it just doesn’t work and is Resident Evil by name only. The title, character names and key plot points like Raccoon City and the T-virus are all present, but it never once feels anything like what you’d expect from Resident Evil. The zombies or zeroes are pretty lacklustre and it’s lacking in any form of horror or scares. Instead, it’s packed full of over-the-top CGI monsters, which admittedly do look fairly decent but this is at the detriment of the rest of the show as every other bit of CGI is fairly poor. They’ve even managed to include the Lickers, which for me were an integral terrifying part of the games, but here they’re wasted.
There are some intriguing hints here to what happened at the original Raccoon City but a lot of this back story is never expanded upon, more of a link here to the original game plots and characters would really have helped pull this together. Instead, despite the frequent naming of the staple Resident Evil plot points, this just feels like a generic zombie apocalypse-style show. I actually think that had they removed the links to Resident Evil and kept this as a standalone show, it probably would’ve been a lot more successful as there were some positive aspects. The soundtrack was funky, modern and really got me hooked, and once I turned a blind eye to the Resident Evil bits, I found that I was fairly intrigued to discover how this turned out. The teenage sisters and Jade getting captured or betrayed every 5 minutes were a tad irritating, but I still wanted to keep on watching and it was never bad enough to turn off. The ending was probably the biggest nuisance as I’d been expecting a big reveal as to how the release of the T-virus came about, but instead, the finale was a huge anticlimax.
My biggest frustration with this show is that instead of trying to make a true and accurate adaptation of the original game(s), it’s like they’ve decided not to risk it and have gone as far away from the source material as possible, including completely changing key characters like Wesker. This proves to be the biggest mistake they could ever make, as the end result fails to meet any expectations fans of the games might have. So far, the 2021 film Welcome to Raccoon City has been the best adaptation to date and even that was far from perfect. While this series isn’t entirely terrible, the storyline and links with the original games (or lack thereof), really lets it down. This has obviously been set up for more seasons but I for one am not crying out for more. Instead, I’ll hold out hope that one day someone might be able to faithfully adapt the games without trashing the source material.
A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!