by Brody Rossiter
Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil anthology has proven to be one of cinema’s most enduring franchises. Despite often being on the receiving end of critical tongue-lashings, the video game adaptations are regarded with a great deal of affection by fans of the celebrated survival horror games and lovers of horror cinema.
Anderson’s efforts to stay true to his subject material may well have overridden hopes of producing works capable of garnering mainstream acclaim; a distinctly video-game-esque aesthetic, melodramatic dialogue and procedural, puzzle-heavy plot take precedence over traditional filmmaking conventions. Nevertheless, the director’s primary goal has seemingly always been to to produce action-heavy pictures packed with cheap thrills and audience pleasing fan service.
The first filmic step into the Resident Evil universe is still widely regarded as the strongest. Unique casting (Milla Jovovich, James Purefoy, Michelle Rodriguez), breakneck pacing, grisly shocks and a thrashing score batter the senses and drag you into a highly-entertaining descent into the clandestine and zombie-filled Umbrella facility.
Almost two decades on from its cinematic release, the special effects are looking worse for wear, action set-pieces are far from seamless, and the environments appear rough around the edges. However, the picture’s gnawing brute force rapidly sweeps you up and sends you hurtling toward a revelatory climax.
Lots of fun, lovingly adapted and full of chaotic action, Resident Evil remains an exhilarating undead joyride that doesn’t disappoint despite its evident flaws.