The new Resident Evil movie, Welcome to Raccoon City, is reportedly going to be an adaptation of the first two games. When describing the plot of the movie, writer-director Johannes Roberts said he wants to capture the horror from the games while also “telling a grounded human story about a small dying American town.” Trouble is — there are a number of things in the RE games that will make a moviegoer who’s never played the game scratch their head.
“Grounded” isn’t bad. There’s nothing wrong with telling a “grounded” zombie survival horror story. Except they’re adapting Resident Evil. The backstory — and frontstory and inbetweenstory — of this entire franchise is just riddled with weirdness. You’d have to actively extricate a grounded story from this ridiculous series. Don’t get me wrong: I love everything about Resident Evil, but let’s take a look at the sort of things they’ll probably have to cut from the movie (but I sincerely hope they don’t).
1. The Queen Leech
The question of how the T-Virus spread was not answered exactly in the original Resident Evil. It was implied to be a karmic punishment for the scientists, man’s reach exceeding his grasp. But the canonical explanation for how the virus got out, as told in Resident Evil Zero, is that a leech that thought it was Umbrella co-founder James Marcus spread a bunch of infected leeches in the Arklay Mountain facilities. How did it do this? By morphing into a seven-foot-tall man who sings opera on hilltops. I will eat my mouse with hot sauce if any element of that makes it into the Resident Evil movie.
2. The Spencer Mansion’s Traps
Ah, the Spencer Mansion — one of the strangest pieces of property in a video game. I cannot wait to see its Gothic strangeness translated to film. But I highly doubt every single element of the mansion is going to make it to the screen. For example, while I fully expect — nay, demand — a Jill sandwich joke, I don’t know how they’re going to show or explain a spike trap ceiling. What works in a game (or what requires little explanation) won’t really make sense on film. An old Gothic mansion looks good on screen, but I struggle to think how we’re going to explain a corridor with a suit of armor on rails that has a saw blade for a shield.
3. The Police Station’s Keys
Related to the above, I struggle to see how we’re going to explain why a working police station in a Midwestern city has secret rooms and doors that can only be opened with card suit-themed keys. Maybe there’s no door that can only be opened with Moonlight Sonata, but there is a statue in the lobby that opens into a secret passageway if you insert medallions. I think “secret passageway” by itself wouldn’t be such a big deal, but the puzzles from the game will probably have to be cut both for time and because what kind of station is this, anyway?
I realize that herbs, as a game mechanic, probably won’t make it into the movie, but it’s such an RE staple that I’m hoping against hope they can sneak it in somehow. Herbs that heal everything up to and including a Tyrant punch are just a thing we’ve accepted exist in Raccoon City and the Resident Evil universe in general. I just know this isn’t going to make the cut into the “grounded, human story,” and I’m already mourning their absence.
5. The G-Monster’s Reproductive Method
Look, I’m sure most of these things can be written off. No herbs? Fine. No mansion puzzles? I get it. But William Birkin’s G-mutations are a major antagonist in the RE2 story, and the reason he’s chasing Leon and Claire — or, more accurately, Sherry — is kind of a major part of his horror. But how are we going to tell audiences that the G-Virus basically creates an incest monster? That this former human is searching for his preadolescent daughter in order to implant her with an infected embryo? I don’t expect to hear Annette offer that explanation when asked, assuming she and William even appear in the movie.
Again, I love all of these elements of Resident Evil. And I hope the Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City filmmakers include at least a little of the games’ more bizarre elements — it’s part of the charm, after all. But I highly doubt some of the weirdness is going to translate so well to screen.