It was only about four months ago that Resident Evil: The Final Chapter hit theaters. The sixth installment in the horror-action film franchise based on the widely-acclaimed video game series closed the door on the story set forth by Paul W. S. Anderson. It also bid farewell to Milla Jovovich as the starring lead of Alice. Though the closing of the franchise was met with a rather astounding question as to its current relevance, it was an end many die-hard fans had been building to. Anderson successfully told a story completely separate from anything laid out in the video games while still sprinkling in enough of the expected and fan-favorite nods to pay proper homage to the source material. Honestly, it is inarguably one of the most successful film franchise based on a video game and the only time that the film influenced the following games. Remember that laser hallway scene?
HORRORS IN PARALLEL
One of the biggest criticisms of the franchise was that slowly but surely, it became more action and less horror. The close-quarters confinements and terrifying jump scares made way to swooping action shots, large scale explosions, and brightly lit fight scenes. The movies strayed away from the science fiction and horror that set the entire franchise apart from most other mainstream sources of entertainment. That is where the films slowly lost their identity and audience.
It is important to bear in mind that this is not unparalleled by the games that gave birth to the films themselves. Fans who have made their way through the backlog of classic survival horror recognize the similarities in change. In 1996, Resident Evil effectively created the survival horror genre. Over time, the games became less focused on horror and gave way to more action based digital experiences with elements of horror for brand association. Nowhere was this more egregious than last summer’s Umbrealla Corps. Aside from the name and brand, this was nothing more than a lack-luster online shooter set in the Resident Evil universe. Watching the films take the same plunge and shift as the games may seem like a bleak view of the situation.
Well, a few weeks ago, a mere matter of days after the DVD and Blu-ray release of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, a reboot was announced and already in the works. A six-picture reboot, nonetheless. Many people were caught off guard by such a sudden turn around on rebooting a franchise so recently closed. And frankly, too many, this just seemed like a bad idea. The franchises film quality and reception had steadily been decreasing over time, so why would continuing the franchise in any capacity be a good idea?
The faith in the future comes with this parallel of film and games. Just as the games had shifted to all-out action with less horror, the movies followed suit. The gleam of hope comes from January’s Resident Evil VII: Biohazard. In an attempt to revitalize the franchise, Capcom released a new installment that was not necessarily a reboot, but a harsh step away from what the games had become. Moving to the first-person view, doubling back to traditional survival horror basics, and maintaining a stark and surprising twist at the end gave a fresh breath of life to Resident Evil.
If the movies were to continue their parallel of theme and style with varied story elements to the games, a reboot is the right direction to go. This concept provides a little hope for fans moving forward. All of this, of course, hinges on the film makers moving back to the horror roots as the games have. Luckily, James Wan has signed on to participate in at least producing the project reboot. For those who do not know, Wan is most known for his work in the Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring franchises. If this does not bode well for the return to horror in the Resident Evil film franchise, nothing will. Rebooting the franchise, even this early, aims to right some of the wrongs of the previous films and maintain the true science fiction horror that made the original games so famous.