There's a lot of bad that you can say about Resident Evil. It's based
on a video game, and we all know how good those movies are. It has Milla Jovovich
in the lead role, and we all know how good those movies are. It's an obnoxiously
loud gorefest that relies heavily on adolescent hormones for attention, replete
with overused plotlines and predictable dialogue.
The one good thing that pops to mind is that it's a really fun film.
The story is based on a popular video game of the same name, about a corporate
entity named the Umbrella that is doing a lot more than supplying the world
with trendy products. In fact, a large part of their cash flow comes from military
research, part of which involves the T-13 virus. There's a subplot that pops
up occasionally involving the evil corporate entity and a group of people that
want to expose them for the evil that they are, but for the most part, that's
all forgettable. From here on out, it takes a back seat to flesh-eating zombies
and a provocatively dressed military agent with amnesia kicking and shooting
her way through them.
Given the source material, and the fact that it's about cannibalistic dead
people, it's not hard to figure out what you're in for. There's blood and guts,
guns, and a heavy metal soundtrack, exactly what teenagers want. With that in
mind, it's very well done. None of the actors will win awards for their roles
here, but none are blindingly horrific either. Writer / director Paul Anderson
shows the same frenetic energy that he did with Mortal Kombat, and the
excellent sense of claustrophobic terror that he used in Event Horizon.
The strongest point to be made about this film is that it may very well be
one of the best treatments of zombies that horror movies have seen since George
Romero popularized them with Night of the Living Dead. In some ways,
in fact, Resident Evil serves as an update on Romero's classic. The zombies
spread through contact (if you're bitten, you're screwed) they have only one
motivation (food, preferably warm), and the only way to stop them is with a
shot or a baseball bat to the head (though Anderson smartly adds damage to the
upper spinal cord to the list). There's also the hopeless confinement (a complex
that rests a half mile underground rather than a house near the cemetery).
Not all movies are made to win critical acclaim, horror movies even less so.
Enjoying a movie like this probably requires less brainpower than the antagonists
display, with wafer-thin and disposable (but ultra-hip and oh-so-pretty) characters
and a story that wouldn't surprise a ten-year-old. That said, it's worth turning
your brain off every once in while, especially if you enjoy a good old-fashioned
scare in stylish surroundings.