By Troy Ribeiro
Film: ‘Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City’ (Showing in Theatres); Duration: 107 minutes.
Director: Johannes Roberts
Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Hannah John-Kamen, Robbie Amell, Tom Hopper, Avan Jogia, Donal Logue, Neal McDonough, Lily Gao.
IANS Rating: **1/2
Loosely based on the video game series of the same name, this action-horror film is the seventh live-action film of its franchise and a reboot that aims for a more faithful adaptation of its interactive source material. But unfortunately, this reboot of lowbrow brilliance is a ghastly but soulless film.
It is bereft of the visual distinction or creative identity hence making its predecessors appear much superior.
The film opens like a paranormal fan film with a flashback scene to the untoward experiences of siblings Claire and Chris Redfield at an orphanage run by the Umbrella Corporation, an immoral Pharma conglomerate that dominates Raccoon City. This sequence is revisited later in the narrative.
Then foregrounding the siblings, Claire (Kaya Scodelario) and Chris (Robbie Amell), with a dark link to the cruelties of the corporation, the plot then takes us to the year 1998, where the grim post-industrial town has just lost its biggest employer, the Umbrella Corporation.
Claire believes that the company has polluted the town’s water with a mysterious and dangerous substance. Chris, an operative of the elite police does not believe his sister till he along with his trigger-happy partner Jill Valentine (Hannah John- Kamen) and the blond Albert Wesker (Tom Hopper), is called to investigate a killing in a deserted mansion.
That is when they realise that Raccoon City’s population has turned into flesh-eating zombies. Claire on the other hand teams up with rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy (Avan Jogia) to escape. En route, she starts to unravel the mystery that bothered her since her childhood.
The film is fun when showcasing Leon as a rookie cop who is transferred to Raccoon City after he accidentally shoots his partner in the butt. This bad joke turns into a workable gag.
Director Robert’s script delves into the mythology of the game’s universe hence audiences will have to overlook a lot of narrative-bungling. Despite this, the narrative goes a long way by gleefully embracing primal creepiness.
The first twenty minutes push every available opportunity to freak the audience out with eerie dolls, rasping voices from the shadows, scrawled warnings, cheerful children’s drawings with ominous undertones, and much more.
Then, it quickly evolves into a full-fledged action-horror narrative drawing its strength from the spooky aesthetics of the games, which includes the cast of monstrosities like; The Mutant Hound, the man with many eyes, and the exposed brain creature. These all look sharper than they ever have, even if there is hardly any inspiration in their mayhem.
Overall, the film suffers from inconsistent editing especially during the overtly sharp horror stings and generic action sequences.