Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (2021)

It’s surprising that “Welcome to Raccoon City” wasn’t very well received in 2021, as I think it’s about as good a movie as I’d have expected for a “Resident Evil” feature film. Surely, it’s by no means a perfect adaptation but I had a great time with it, and enjoyed it so much more than what Paul WS Anderson served up in the aughts. Johannes Roberts injects a lot of life in to this feature film visit to Raccoon City, and his reboot is filled with some great scares, genuinely good zombie carnage, and classic mystery on par with the video games.

Raccoon City was the once the booming home of pharmaceutical giant Umbrella Corp. The company’s exodus left the city a wasteland, a dying town with great evil brewing below the surface. When that evil is unleashed, a group of survivors must work together to uncover the truth behind Umbrella and make it through the night as they’re attacked by flesh eating zombies, rotting dogs, and assorted creatures lurking in the dark.

As I mentioned Johannes Robert doesn’t deliver a genuine masterpiece, but “Welcome to Raccoon City” is a fun experience. The cast is especially good in their respective roles including Kaya Scodelario as Claire, and Avan Jogia as Leon Kennedy. If anything its drawback is that it tries to squeeze in two massive stories in to one film. The movie is a hybrid of parts one and two from the original video games, and the pairing of the narratives works sometimes and hinders the film’s pacing other time.

One moment we’re watching Claire Redfield fend off zombies in a parking lot, and the next Chris Redfield is lurking around a massive mansion. For the most part, though, I appreciated the film’s unabashed love for the source material, and how it stuck to the video games’ atmosphere. The movie is horror first and foremost and among the setting of the zombie apocalypse, there’s a fascinating mystery involving the Umbrella corporation. I can’t say I was very invested in the mystery involving Claire and her brother Chris, as I was never clear on where that was going.

But the film compensates with some great, tense moments of sheer chaos and action. One great scene involves a zombie consumed by flames walking through the police station, and another moment where Chris is stuck in a dark room and fends off approaching zombies with his gun and the bright lights of the shots. I especially enjoyed the sense of urgency as the clear motivation to get out of the city is set from the first act, and it allows for great tension. “Welcome to Raccoon City” is a bang up reboot, one that revels in the inherent terror of the games, in spite of its flaws.

I fully intend to re-visit it soon.