Resident Evil returns to theaters and does it with Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, a film that aims to delve into the origin of the stories told in the games of Capcom. Written and directed by Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down, The Strangers: Prey at Night), this film is based on the first two titles in the series and recounts how the city went from being a model population to ground zero of the T-Virus outbreak.
In this exclusive email interview with IGN, Roberts explained the differences between his Resident Evil film and the previous series of films by Screen Gems, starring Jovovich mile and produced by Paul W.S. Anderson, as well as the way the film is inspired not only by Capcom games, but also by John Carpenter’s cinema and the horror of the time.
From Paul WS Anderson’s Resident Evil to a universe revolving around games
Resident Evil is one of the most commercially successful video game film franchises in history. So one of the questions to ask, inevitably, was why restart that universe instead of continuing it. In this sense, the director is clear:
“The truth is that I love the first movie. I think it’s great. And Milla created an iconic character. But it was her own thing. It wasn’t really Resident Evil as I knew it – previous movies never captured the game or the feelings you got from playing it (not a criticism, I think it just went in a different direction). I wanted to go back to the horror of it all. wanted scares and atmosphere instead of raw action. I think fans of the game felt the same way – they wanted to see the iconic characters and locations and feel like the movie was more in tune with the game world, so that’s why we decided to go in that direction. We worked closely with Capcom on this movie… to the point where we obtained from them the blueprints of the Spencer mansion and Raccoon Police Station designs to recreate them as perfectly as possible. We even have exact illustrations on the walls of the mansion. Capcom saw it for the first time recently and the reaction was very positive. And that, as a fan of the series, made me very happy and moved me. “
One of the main differences between this reboot and the saga that we saw end just a few years ago, is precisely that, the fidelity that is intended to be obtained with respect to the original fiction. Not only in location, but also in characters. But of course, there can be a lot of distance between a character who stars in a video game and his film reinterpretation. When asked about it, Roberts highlights the cohort of this film with respect to the previous ones, something that was also present in the games, and adds the following:
“… It’s not just cosplay characters that have the exact hair and costume from the video games. I think before it was all about the Alice character – who never appeared in the games – and the game characters that did appear, like Jill, Leon, Claire and Chris, they did it as kind of secondary cameos. In this movie, Jill and Leon have the same leading role as Claire, Chris and Wesker.
Jill is a very funny character, kind of a village girl, good by nature. You get really scared for her when things get tough. Hannah John-Kamen gave it a lot of life. Leon Kennedy was interesting because, in many ways, it was my way of entering the film as a screenwriter; in a way, I saw the story through his eyes. I wanted to get away from the action hero Leon has become in recent games and back to the Leon Kennedy of his first incarnation, Resident Evil 2’s “rookie.” He’s not an action hero in this movie: he’s overworked, hungover, and can’t believe all the shit that has fallen on him on his first day. The events of the film help create the “hero” who will later become Leon in the games. His character has an air of Carpenter. When I wrote it, I had in mind a kind of cross between Jack Burton and MacReady. It was probably the hardest role to play to find someone who could pull it off. Avan Jogia has done it. He’s wonderfully scruffy and out of it in the movie. “
The terror of the 70s as a starting point for the visual section
Regarding visual aesthetics, in the words of Roberts himself “This movie has nothing to do with the previous franchise“. He insists on his desire to return to the origin, to the video games that gave him his identity, and explains that the remake of the second game influenced him a lot, as did the cinematographic techniques of the 70s:
“I was very influenced by the remake of the second game and wanted to capture the atmospheric tone it had. It was very cinematic. The previous films were very bright and luminous, while this movie is dark and gloomy, shot completely at night. It rains constantly and the city is shrouded in mist. I have been very influenced by the cinematographic techniques of the seventies: we shot using the zoom a lot! And there are no drone shots on film or impossible shots from CGI cameras. The movie has an old-school retro feel to it. I’m heavily influenced by movies like The Exorcist (and The Exorcist 3), Don’t Look Now and The Shining. In this film you can feel the texture. Nothing in this city seems high-tech. It feels like it’s ruined. I wanted Raccoon City to look a bit like Deer Hunter City, a ghost town forgotten by the rest of the world. And the whole structure of the movie is heavily influenced by Assault on Police Station 13.”
But of course, if we talk about aesthetics, we cannot ignore the bestiary of creatures, the catalog of monsters and monsters that populate the universe of games. When asked about it, Roberts again alludes to the original work, defining it as his “shooting star” and assuring that “all characters and creatures are from the game”:
“I wanted to create a feeling of real immersion for the fans. But that became the most difficult part of adapting an IP like this, because I didn’t want to just put the game on the screen, it had to be my own with living characters and creatures (and zombies, of course) to feel true to the world. Some of the creatures look amazing. It is a mixture of prosthetics, CGI and creatures. You will immediately recognize the creatures in the game, but we hope we have gone the extra mile in terms of making these terrifying creations feel like they could actually exist in real life..”
On the other hand, something that seems to have determined in a decisive way the director’s desires in terms of aesthetics, is the work of John Carpenter, which he defines as his main inspiration when it comes to bringing to the big screen “a lot of things that haven’t appeared in any previous movie.” In that sense, Roberts does not hesitate to show his pride:
“…There are some iconic creatures that fans will be delighted to see. We have done everything possible to make them feel like characters; we focus on each individual creature, be it a zombie, a raven, a doberman or … (I won’t reveal the rest). But we do not work with large plans of faceless hordes, but with details. It’s about really connecting with that individual creature in that moment.. Make you feel like a living being that breathes. Feel the disbelief of our characters at what is happening. John Carpenter is the master of this. Look at The Thing – every moment of the creature is treated like a work of art – you come to marvel at all its glory. There is true personality and life in each creature, and the reactions of the characters are honest and real. The fear is very real. I had this very much in mind when shooting Resident Evil, especially when recreating moments like the zombie turning around in the game, as well as when things get really crazy in the end; I invite the public to enjoy the creations that we have put on screen. I’m looking forward to people seeing them in all their glory. “
The difficulty of casting and the role of Lisa Trevor
Some creatures that the main group must face, among which stand out Leon and Jill, two iconic characters for whom the casting task should not have been easy. When asked about this process and the suitability of the chosen actors, Roberts argues the following:
“In the whole casting process it’s very important to find people who embody the spirit and energy of the characters you want to portray. I think often, in game adaptations, one of the big failures can be limited to choosing someone who visually resembles the characters, giving them the same haircut and clothes, but without trying to give the audience what a movie does better than a game, which is to create a three-dimensional character that they can really connect with and that the audience can believe in. . I think, like I’ve said before, one of the pitfalls of adaptations is making them feel like an expensive version of a cosplay.
Our cast is obviously much more diverse than the original games, but I wanted to resist the trap of casting because someone looked like their character identically. In fact, there were a lot of actors who came and were perfectly recreated as the character they were playing, but it wasn’t what I thought I needed for this story. In Jill’s case, knew Hannah from Ready Player One and from the series in which he was participating at the time, The Stranger, and I knew it would be perfect. Leon was much more difficult, we saw a lot of people, which was a rather complicated role due to the balance between humor and fatigue.. But when we saw Avan I thought he was the one. Gets it.”
As a last note, we were able to ask Roberts about the role of Lisa Trevor in the plot they have prepared, something that will surely disturb fans who are up to date with the background of everything related to the investigation of the T-Virus. The director defines Lisa’s role as “fundamental to the film “, and continues:
“In the remake of the first game, I was fascinated. His character was haunting to me. When we discussed how to bring the story to life, his role was one of the elements that he wanted to highlight strongly, as he had never appeared in a film version of Resident Evil. I wanted it to be a three-dimensional character, not just a spooky specter. We hire Marina Mazepa, what did you just do Evil to James Wan and he went out of his way to bring this character to life in a way that I think the fans are going to like very much. It is terrifying but also tragic. In the movie, we really connected her to Claire Redfield’s story, starting with the orphanage that Claire grew up in..”
Soon we will know the final result, but it is clear the love that Johannes Roberts he professes to the saga of survival horror. Resident Evil: Welcome to Racconn City is scheduled to premiere in Spanish territory for the next December 30 of this same year, while in the United States it will arrive almost a month before, on November 24. Go saving ammo.