Netflix’s horror series lacks horror

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Netflix's horror series lacks horror

Ella Balinska as Jade in Resident Evil

Ella Balinska as Jade in resident Evil
photo: Netflix

You’ll be forgiven if you hear there’s a new one resident Evil Adaptation comes out thinking, “Didn’t they just try that?” In the last 20 years it’s been seven resident Evil films including a reboot that came out less than eight months ago. Now Netflix is ​​adding another title based on the iconic horror games.

The new series resident Evil shifts its origin from the USA to New Raccoon City in South Africa. The events of the games are should be canon and Raccoon City Classic™ is long gone. The show evenly focuses on two timelines, something all shows seem to have to do these days. In 2022, twin sisters Jade and Billie Wesker (Tamara Smart and Siena Agudong) move to New Raccoon City with their father resident Evil Villain Albert Wesker (Lance Reddick, king of the “vaguely menacing face of a shady syndicate” casting). New Raccoon City is a corporate town built by Umbrella Corporation, a suspect pharmaceutical giant with a long list of secrets, including the truth about, hey, whatever happened old Racoon City?

And then there’s the story of 2036, which follows an adult Jade (Ella Balinska) “14 years after the end,” which we learn thanks to a subtitled announcement on the nose. Living in an isolated camp in the heart of post-apocalyptic London, she studies zombies (or “zeros,” as they’re known locally) for signs that the T-Virus that destroyed the world might be evolving. Aside from a cool 300 million survivors, the rest of Earth’s population has turned into shambling mobs checking all modern zombie boxes: wet growls, sniffing the air for blood, gorging on cast members – you get the point.

Between the two periods, the pre-dystopian plot has more momentum. Agudong, Smart, and Reddick work well together as a nuanced family unit. Albert works for a company that is up to no good, sure, but he’s also very protective of his children. Calling him a “good father” would be an overstatement (like what’s the deal with him taking blood samples every two weeks?), but Reddick’s charisma and warmth round out what can be a rather thankless role. It’s a shame the story is riddled with inorganic dialogue and a parade of pop culture references. Billie Eilish, Lululemon and Elon Musk are all named in the first five minutes of the first episode and driving home that this is the case New resident Evil. That would be tolerable if the outside world had any bearing on how things go in New Raccoon City. Instead, it comes across as rotten window dressing that undermines the city’s unsettling isolation. “We’re in South Africa and there are about three black people here,” Jade whispers to Billie on the driveway.

The plot of 2036 doesn’t look any better apart from a few good mutant bashing set pieces including one featuring a kaiju sized caterpillar that makes us want a version of this show that… stranger. Unfortunately, resident Evil happily resting on zombie apocalypse clichés when Jade’s camp is breached and she is forced to flee to safety. There is a crazy maxScavenger stronghold surrounded by zombies, an amoral ferryman trading goods for safe passage to Calais, and of course an arm of the new Umbrella Corp. with Jade hot on his heels, led by smiling Irish sociopath Richard Baxter (a very wild turlough transmission).

Resident Evil | Official Trailer | Netflix

resident Evil doesn’t quite go into Mystery Box territory, but there are some interesting questions raised in the first four episodes. The T-Virus is responsible for all zombies, yes, but it also mutates almost everything in its path. Are there people out there who are even? more mutated? The lack of an adult Billie in 2036 also sets alarm bells ringing for the 2022 storyline, and it’s young Billie who has the show’s most compelling line yet. The show mercifully doesn’t take us very long, confirming that Billie is still kicking around somewhere in 2036. You’ll have to find out for yourself what she’s up to.

Finally, after a good opening sequence, resident Evil settles into an action-adventure slog rather than anything remotely new or scary. The total lack of “horror” here is a egregious sin. We’re introduced to monsters in the dark and bloody lab experiments gone wrong, but never end up so scary. Rather, they seem like superficial commitments to the genre.

That resident Evil The video game series has successfully reinvented itself more than once while maintaining the kind of claustrophobic terror that put the franchise on the map in the first place. There is none of that in this new story that could be confused with another Living Dead Spinoff if you swapped every mention of Umbrella and the Wesker surname. The original 1996 game is credited with zombie resurgence as a major pop culture force, but that again exhausted its acceptance a decade ago. Netflix resident Evil is proof it’s time to bury a pickaxe in the franchise.

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