by Rob DiCristino
1. The Jovovich of It All
Wonder Woman. I have no interest in erasing the Paul W.S. Anderson Resident Evil franchise from our collective memories. However, as a lifelong fan of the original Capcom video game series, I’ve always considered the films a missed opportunity. The games (specifically the first three entries) feature a rich and complex tapestry of characters, suspense, hidden agendas, and small-town mystery. Uncovering the truth of what happened in Raccoon City (and why) has always been at least as fun as blowing giant holes in zombified frogs with grenade launchers. A rebooted film trilogy could go small, emphasizing story and character where Anderson’s work prioritized special effects and gore.
2. Listen to Romero
In 1998, zombie godfather George A. Romero directed a TV commercial for Resident Evil 2, a project that so thoroughly impressed Sony Pictures that they brought Romero on to write and direct the then-upcoming feature film adaptation of the first game. Romero wasn’t a gamer, it has to be said, but series creators Shinji Mikami and Tokuro Fujiwara clearly found Romero’s dark tone and methodical pacing to be an influence on their own work. Like Romero’s films, their games aren’t shoot-em-ups; they’re quiet, often introspective dramas punctuated by action (or, as Spaced’s Tim Bisley put it, “a subtle blend of lateral thinking and extreme violence”). It seemed like a perfect match: Romero needed a hit, and Sony wanted to give their project the proper horror bonafides. It...didn’t work. The screenplay Romero eventually wrote was flat and dull, leading Sony to ratchet up the action when Anderson came aboard. Still, Romero’s draft does a lot of things right: It retains the game’s claustrophobic haunted house setting, isolates the storylines of the two playable characters to maintain plot cohesion, and builds up to fewer, more impactful scares, rather than unleashing an orgy of machine-gunning mayhem.
3. To Live and Die in Raccoon City
4. It’s the Right Time In Horror History
Mandy’s Panos Cosmatos making a haunted house movie featuring — no bullshit — a room-sized, man-eating plant. Little Shop of Horrors on (literal) steroids. Imagine what The Babadook’s Jennifer Kent could do with a murder of mutated, zombified crows. Imagine Midsommar’s Florence Pugh strapping on a bulletproof vest and rescuing lost children in a post-apocalyptic thriller directed by Revenge’s Coralie Fargeat. Imagine The Witch’s Robert Eggers designing a hulking Zombie Terminator costume for the Mountain from Game of Thrones. Shit, man, give the first film to David Gordon Green, the second film to Alex Garland, and the third film to Luca Guadagnino. Make it an experimental tryptic tone poem of psychedelic chaos that premiers on Shudder on Christmas Eve. Or make it an eight-part miniseries on Amazon Prime, for all I care. I don’t make the rules around here. Just do it.
5. It Can Work Around Zombie Fatigue