Over the weekend, German production company Constantin Film announced they have plans to reboot the Resident Evil movie franchise. Despite negative reception from critics and some fans, the movie series based on the famous survival-horror video game was a commercial success worldwide, so it’s understandable that Constantin wants to continue profiting from it. This seems like a great time to jump into the reboot train since everyone seems to be working on such a project whether their IPs were popular or not.
Constantin Film has a lot of expectations to meet. Although the first two Resident Evil films were OK when compared to other movies based on established video game franchises, the third set a new standard for ridiculous by throwing the cliffhanger from Apocalypse (2004) out of the window. Every entry onward has its own plot that loosely follows whatever happened before, sometimes going as far as disregarding the previous script. The production company didn’t announce if they would continue working with director Paul W. S. Anderson, but if they care at all about what fans have to say, they won’t. Whatever they decide to do, however, there are a few reasons to consider stepping into TV instead of sticking to the big screen.
One of the major complaints fans have with the Resident Evil films is the fact that they have little to do with the games. The first two films have aspects from the first three games—the underground laboratory hid under a mansion in the outskirts of Raccoon City and later the subplot about a nuclear explosion to wipe the place clean of the zombie infection. For those who didn’t follow or don’t remember, the ending of Apocalypse had the core characters retrieving Alice from an Umbrella facility, where she was experimented on and turned into a computer-controlled bio-weapon—like her friend Matt from the first movie. It was the perfect backdrop to follow in the game’s footsteps, where Raccoon City survivors fight the global threat of bio-weaponry set in motion by Umbrella. However, Extinction (2007) ignores that and jumps forward in favor of a Mad Max kind of atmosphere and cool shots. It gets worse in consecutive iterations.
A movie reboot wouldn’t solve the problems imposed by the format. The Resident Evil franchise has a long history that spans decades, which is one of the reasons why the first two films, despite being good enough to be guilty pleasures, didn’t please fans. The similar aspects (the mansion, the laboratory, the city outbreak, and even Nemesis) weren’t enough to associate this separate universe to its source material. This could be addressed by a TV show, a format that usually has nine to twelve or thirteen 40-minutes episodes to tell a story.
By scrapping a completely original story and sticking to the source material, the TV show could tell what happened before, during, and after the events in Raccoon City. For example, in Resident Evil it is stated that strange occurrences in the outskirts of the city led S.T.A.R.S. to run a field investigation. The first season of the TV show could explore the rumors surrounding these incidents as well as investigations made by journalists and the police. Viewers would be introduced to Jill, Chris, and even Wesker as they learn more about Umbrella and the mansion. Yes, most of them didn’t know about the mansion in the game, but we’re working on an adaptation here. Bear with me.
The second season could follow Alpha Team (notably Chris, Jill, Barry, and Wesker) as they learn the mansion’s secrets. Meanwhile, it could also transition to Rebecca Chambers and Billy Coen (Resident Evil Zero), whose story is told parallel to the mansion incident. Sounds difficult to spread these stories over several episodes, but the right writer and the right director, both of which should know the franchise’s history, could make it possible. It would be necessary to deviate somewhat from the games’ events, but that is only expected from an adaptation that stays true to its source material.
The third season would, in my opinion, be the most interesting. We would see the survivors returning to Raccoon City to face Umbrella. Although the time gap between the first and the second and third games is short, it’s just enough time for our heroes to go against the mega corporation in court. This season could also tie-in with multiplayer-centered Outbreak (2003) by presenting a prologue to the eight characters, particularly the reporter Alyssa Ashcroft.
Finally, the fourth season would focus on the events of Resident Evil 2, 3, and maybe even Outbreak and other spin-offs. Instead of having each character going their separate ways, the stories could converge somehow while still staying true to its source. There could even be a fifth season which depicts how the survivors carry on after escaping the city and the fall of Umbrella. Code Veronica (2000) is a great example of what it could focus on. I think writing something based on Resident Evil 4 for a later season could turn out to be interesting, but 5 and 6 are a stretch considering how weak their plots are.
It’s unlikely that we will ever get a TV show (whether it’s curated by Netflix or other streaming services) based on the father of survival horror, but it’s never too late to dream. What remains is to hope that Constantin Film assigns a decent a director who knows Resident Evil and cares to do something fans of the game would actually enjoy.