A new Resident Evil movie is in development from Johannes Roberts, the director of 47 Meters Down and its sequel, and The Strangers: Prey at Night. The last installment of the zombie-killing franchise, the definitively titled Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, was released in January 2017.
Despite video game adaptations generally getting written off before they’ve even got anywhere, the Resident Evil saga managed to buck the trend. Although generally receiving mixed to negative reviews from critics, each installment was popular enough with audiences to turn enough of a profit that more were made. It wasn't until 15 years and six movies later when franchise navigator Paul W S Anderson decided to call it a day in favor of writing and directing an adaptation of RPG series Monster Hunter.
The subject of the new Resident Evil movie came up when we asked Roberts directly about the director credit for the upcoming reboot at the top of his IMDb page, and what he could tell us about the current stage of production. In addition to stating it would be a film rather than a series, he stated:
“We are in active development of that at the moment. I pitched them a take, and they really loved it. So, we are just gearing up on that as we speak, really. I’m in the office all the time there. So, yeah, it’s great. It’s gonna be super scary. It’s super, super scary. And it’s just getting back to the roots of the game. I think, at the moment, I’m not really allowed to say much more than that. But it’s gonna be a lot of fun.”
In many people’s minds, Resident Evil will always be an action film franchise starring Milla Jovovich and featuring lunatic action and absurd plots that increase in intensity with each film. However, the property started out in a much more subdued fashion in 1996 as a survival horror game for the PlayStation, and one so successful it came to codify the subgenre. Its story saw Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine (both of whom were featured in the films), who were members of police special ops team S.T.A.R.S. Together, they investigate a series of gruesome murders in the mountains surrounding a Midwestern city and find themselves trapped in a zombie-infested mansion. The game’s emphasis was on tactics and planning rather than wading into every fight with guns blazing, as ammunition was scarce and limited. There was also a puzzle-solving element that made you think as well as fight.
Roberts’ description of “getting back to the roots of the game” would suggest that instead of being another hyperkinetic action movie, it will take inspiration from the initial game installment, where everything was designed to scare you and make you feel tense. Such was the emotional shredding inflicted upon young ‘90s players by the game, many of them refused to play it alone or at night. If Roberts can recreate and invoke that kind of primal fear in his Resident Evil, it would become a true horror and one that may even surpass the overblown franchise in acclaim and popularity.