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Resident Evil: An Unconventional Addition to the Zombie Genre

India has been an avid fan of all things spooky and scary ever since she can remember.

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Rain: "All the people that were working here are dead."

Spence: "Well, that isn't stopping them from walking around."

— Resident Evil, 2002

I will preface this review by admitting that I am an avid fan of zombie movies. As I mentioned in my first review, it was a zombie flick which introduced me to the horror genre; and I’ve had a soft spot for them ever since. Sadly, there aren’t enough quality zombie films out there. Although there are plenty of movies featuring the undead, most are plagued (pun intended) by two-dimensional characters and convoluted storylines. 2002’s Resident Evil, however, is an action-packed, irreverent take on the genre.

Ordinarily, movies based on video games are lackluster at best (Sonic the Hedgehog anyone?), relying on the game’s reputation to attract viewers. Luckily, the first installment in the Resident Evil franchise is an exception to this trend. Although the film is far from flawless, it has enough over-the-top fight scenes and unique characters to keep things interesting. As a result, Resident Evil is a rollicking ride from start to finish.

The movie follows Alice (Milla Jovovich), who finds herself in a deserted mansion unable to remember anything other than her name. However, our intrepid protagonist soon discovers that she is an employee of the so-called Umbrella Corporation, which is relying on her and a team of elite operatives to terminate an experiment gone horribly wrong. Of course, things aren’t as simple as they seem, since the facility—known as the Hive—is overrun by zombies and the team has only a few hours to complete their mission before the building is permanently sealed. However, although the undead are the main obstacle Alice must face, they aren’t the only thing standing in her way. At various points in her journey, Alice must contend with a rogue AI, untrustworthy allies, and deadly lasers (to name a few).

I know what you’re thinking: there’s too much going on here. But that’s exactly what makes Resident Evil so entertaining! The special effects might be lacking and the plot convoluted, but the movie is never boring. I also appreciated the protagonist’s journey from passive participant to confident warrior. As she regains her memories, Alice also remembers who she truly is—and exactly what she is capable of. It’s a far cry from the beginning of the film, where she is content to let others take the lead.

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Unlike other zombie movies (and horror movies in general)—which tend to depict the female characters running around like proverbial chickens with their heads cut off—Alice is the strongest (and most badass) member of her group, although Rain (Michelle Rodriguez) is a close second. Resident Evil may not require you to use your brain, but it’s nice to see the women using theirs.

© 2022 India LaPalme

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