Deadline has the news of the Resident Evil TV series, which arrives just one month after news that Constantin Film is also working on a film reboot with The Strangers: Prey at Night director Johannes Roberts. The TV series does not have a showrunner yet (Deadline notes that the search is currently on), but it will “expand the Resident Evil universe and deepen the existing mythology.” Like the movies and the games, the show will follow the actions of the Umbrella Corporation, who create a virus that turns people into zombies and other hideous creatures, and the small band of folks who step up to save the world. In the classic games, that involves a lot of puzzle-solving in dark buildings full of monsters where there is never enough ammo. In the movies, that involves making stuff blow up a lot.
The Resident Evil film franchise was never box office juggernaut, but each film was the definition of “modest hit.” Made on relatively low-ish budgets, each movie in the video game-inspired franchise justified the making of the next film in the series, leading to six movies made between 2002 and 2016. Some were good schlock. Some were terrible. All were, somehow, totally watchable in their own dumb way. So, in other words, count me in for more Resident Evil, whether it’s on the big screen or the small screen.
However, this is also an opportunity for Constantin and Netflix to make something more in-line with the best of the video games. While the series would become more action-oriented as it went on, the early games are straight-up horror experiences, where the player must make use of limited resources to barely get by, running instead of shooting, and sweating bullets during intense boss battles. The movies, even from the start, didn’t even attempt to capture this at all, flinging its superheroic characters into bombastic action scenes where dispatching monsters looks easy. And while there are B-movie pleasures to be had in the films, it remains disappointing that the horror was the first thing stripped away in the film adaptations of the most famous horror video game series ever made.
Today, Capcom is releasing a remake of their 1998 classic Resident Evil 2. The reviews are stellar and the released demo promises a return to the franchise’s horror roots, a u-turn that began with the terrifying Resident Evil 7 a few years ago. Playing the demo, I was reminded of how frightening this series can be and how the movies, while often fun, truly dropped the ball on capturing what made these games so special and so fun. Hopefully, Constantin looks at the goodwill and buzz surrounding the Resident Evil 2 remake and considers making a show more like that. After six movies, I’m a wee-bit tired of well-armed action heroes kicking zombies in slow-motion. Take away their bullets. Make them human. Make it, well, Resident Evil.
by Jacob Hall