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Resident Evil: Why The Netflix Show Will Be Better Than Another Movie Reboot


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Netflix's Resident Evil TV show is highly-anticipated by fans of the video games and movies alike, and is poised to become the best interpretation of the popular franchise to date—better than any reboot movie could be. Here's why.

While Paul W.S. Anderson delivered a massively profitable movie franchise that began in the early 2000s with the release of Resident Evil (2002) that extended into the mid-2000s with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016), video game fans were largely disappointed with Anderson's interpretation. Milla Jovovich was a solid choice to shoulder the brunt of the franchise, with her cool delivery of lines and action heroine savvy, given her performances in movies like The Fifth Element and The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. However, heavy criticism was doled out to the fact that Jovovich's character, Alice, was completely original to the franchise, and yet led the charge against the evil Umbrella Corporation. The inclusion of other beloved characters from the game, such as Jill Valentine, Chris Redfield, Claire Redfield, and others didn't make up for the fact that Alice was front and center.

The games, which were introduced by Capcom in 1996, has a rich lore and really goes beyond the standard first-person shooter, zombie-killer type of games. Resident Evil won fans over for its intricate puzzles and elements of nail-biting survival horror that found players wandering the same hallway in search of a green herb for healing or even three bullets. This was possibly the movie franchise's biggest failure; it banked on heavy CGI and action-horror stylization, which became a facet of the games in later installments, but the Netflix series looks to be changing all of that and giving the franchise back to the fans.

Netflix's Resident Evil TV Show Is Staying True To The Video Games
 
 

Andrew Dabb, the executive producer and co-showrunner of The CW's Supernatural, is writing the show for Netflix. Dabb is a professed fan of the video game franchise and, as such, intends to bring that to the forefront. For fans of the game franchise, this should be welcome news—a fellow fan will presumably care for the source material and strive to do it justice. In an interview with Deadline, Dabb said, "For every type of Resident Evil fan, including those joining us for the first time, the series will be complete with a lot of old friends, and some things (bloodthirsty, insane things) people have never seen before."

The show will be directed, in part, by The Walking Dead's Bronwen Hughes, which is more welcome news. As The Walking Dead is, in many ways, the definitive zombie-related horror content in television and has been for some time, this bodes well for how Netflix's Resident Evil show could be done. The game franchise, though certainly not devoid of action, is very much a character-driven franchise that will translate well to a TV show, if handled correctly. The Walking Dead has proven how a zombie apocalypse setting can be interpreted in a way that is consistently exciting to audiences while not letting beloved characters from the source material—in this case, the graphic novels—be mistreated. The full game timeline is 2700 pages long, so there's no shortage of material to draw from. Given that, there's no excuse not to bring the game canon into either a TV show or movie adaptation.

A Resident Evil TV Show Can Cover More Than A Movie
 
 

In the Resident Evil movies, game characters made appearances, but were never truly given the time or space to shine. A TV show can not only allow for more breathing room in terms of drawing out the story, but will be able to capture specific aspects of the different games from season to season. A standalone movie would fall short in being able to cover the extensive material offered in the game franchise. However, popularity plays a big role in whether a single feature film will become an entire franchise, or even get green-lit for a sequel. The Resident Evil movies were incredibly profitable, and ended up grossing over $1 billion at the box office.

If a standalone movie was made, it would likely only be able to focus on the plot of a single game, or perhaps even combine a few and make necessary adjustments for cohesion and flow. A TV show—while only guaranteed for one season, at first—at least has the room to expand over nine or ten episodes, as is standard with Netflix Original shows. A lot can be done in the span of ten episodes.

Given plot details that have been released for the upcoming show, it seems season 1 will focus on New Raccoon City and the Wesker kids in a split timeline that encompasses both the kids' childhood, then jump ahead to when they are adults. While Jade and Billie Wesker are original characters, they are directly linked to one of the game franchise's biggest villains: Albert Wesker. Also, given that "new" Raccoon City is being introduced, it's possible that the TV show will follow the rebuilt city after it was destroyed in Resident Evil 3, which is another nod to the video games.

The focus on Wesker and his family could work well to the TV show's advantage, as it has the potential to act as a bridge between new concepts and existing game canon. Already, the TV show is being described as a mixture of The Walking Dead and Stranger Things, both of which have received accolades from critics and fans alike. Stranger Things is one of Netflix's most popular original scripted series to date, so if it can fill those shoes, it will surely be green-lit beyond season 1, which opens it up to explore other games, depending on how the show's creators are adapting the canon.

Netflix Can Allow Resident Evil To Deliver More Gore & Scares
 
 
Because Netflix doesn't have strict guidelines in regards to violence, sexuality, and other adult content as movies do with the MPAA, it's possible for them to push the envelope further and really lean into what made the game franchise so great in the first place. Many horror movies struggle to keep an R rating, mostly due to elements like gore and violence that is not only shown, but explicitly shown. While there's some leeway for fictionalized violence—like monsters and zombies—it's still a fine line to walk, and possibly why the action sequences were elevated in the movies. Because they functioned more like action movies than horror movies, the high body counts and intense sequences of violence were more balanced out; in many ways, it's more acceptable for an action movie to be intensely violent than a horror movie.

However, Netflix will be able to do more with whatever violence is shown on screen and not only that, they'll be able to do it in an immersive way that harkens back to the original video games. Survival horror and action horror are two entirely different styles. Survival horror focuses more on tight hallways, corridors, and the looming threat of violence that strikes suddenly. There's limited ammunition and resources, and many players opt to avoid conflict and enemies just to stay alive whether they're running low on supplies or not. After all, one never knows when they'll stumble into a room with a zombie hoarde. Action horror, which started to become more prevalent in Resident Evil 4 and onward, doesn't provide the player with this same deficit—there are more enemies, but also more supplies, so the player doesn't have to use them as sparingly.

For the purpose of a TV show, sticking with the survival horror elements would be the smartest move. The Walking Dead has done this, and the tone of the AMC show builds on these concepts very well. There's claustrophobia, high stakes, and anyone can die at any moment; though it makes for terrifying viewing, that's what the audience wants. Without the same restrictions as network television or a movie seeking to court a theatrical release, there's more room to expand on big scares and violence, which Resident Evil definitely needs.

In 2019, a movie reboot with director Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down) was announced; while Roberts boasted that his version was also going to separate itself from the other movies by providing an intensely scary experience, there are still limitations, and Netflix's take on Resident Evil can potentially solve them all.

 

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