The upcoming film Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City tells the origin story of Capcom’s games. Written and directed by Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down, The Strangers: Prey at Night), this film is based on the first two Resident Evil games and chronicles how Raccoon City went from a city of industry to a dying Midwestern town. which is now land. zero for the t-virus outbreak.
In an exclusive email interview with IGN, Roberts explained the differences between his Resident Evil film and Screen Gems’ previous film series starring Milla Jovovich and produced by Paul WS Anderson, as well as how his vision for the film is based on not only in Capcom games, but also in the genre cinema of the John Carpenter era.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
IGN: Resident Evil is one of the most commercially successful video game movie franchises in history. Why restart it instead of continuing it?
Johannes Roberts: In fact, I love the first movie so much. I think it’s great. And Milla just created such an iconic character. But it was her own thing. It wasn’t really Resident Evil as I knew it – the previous movies never really captured the gameplay and the feelings I had playing the game (that’s not a criticism, I think it just went in a different direction). I wanted to return to the horror of it all. I wanted scares and atmosphere instead of all-out action. I think fans of the game felt the same way: they wanted to see the iconic characters and locations and feel like the movie was more in line with the Resident Evil game world, so that’s really why we chose to go in that direction. We worked closely with Capcom on this film… to the point where we got blueprints from them on the Spencer Mansion and Raccoon Police Station layouts to recreate them as best we could. We even have the exact artwork on the walls of the mansion. Capcom saw it for the first time the other day and was very happy and excited. And that, as a nerd, made me so happy and excited!
Resident Evil Origin Movie Cast Comparison
How are these incarnations of characters like Jill Valentine and Leon S. Kennedy different from their versions in previous films?
Johannes Roberts: The difference with this movie compared to the previous movies is that it is an ensemble where each of the main characters has great importance to the narrative. They are not just cosplay characters that have the exact hair and costumes of the characters. I think previously it had all been about the character of Alice, who was never in the games, and the characters in the game that appeared as Jill, Leon, Claire, and Chris did so as kind of secondary cameos. Jill and Leon in this movie are equal leads along with Claire, Chris and Wesker.
Jill was a really fun character to play as, sort of a small town girl with live wires, she’s cool but not in a superhuman way. You really feel scared for her when everything goes wrong. Hannah John-Kamen really brought it to life! Leon Kennedy was interesting because in many ways it was my path to the film as a writer: I saw the story through his eyes. I wanted to move away from the buff action hero that Leon has become in the last few games and go back to the Leon Kennedy of his first ‘rookie’ incarnation in the Resident Evil 2 game. In this movie, he’s not an action hero at all: he’s a little out of it, he’s really hungover and he can’t believe the shit he’s going through on his first day. The events of the film help create the ‘hero’ Leon that you know from the games.
There’s definitely a Carpenter vibe to his character. When I was writing to him, I had a kind of crossover between Jack Burton and MacReady in my mind! It was probably the most difficult role to choose to find someone who could pull it off! Avan Jogia really pulled it off. He is so wonderfully disheveled and out of place in the movie.
IGN: Can you define what your visual aesthetic was for this film in terms of differentiating what audiences have seen in previous Resident Evil films?
Johannes Roberts: This movie really had nothing to do with the previous franchise. It was about going back to the games and creating a movie that was much more of a horror movie than the sci-fi action type of the previous movies. In particular, I was very influenced by the remake of the second game and really wanted to capture the atmosphere-soaked tone that it had. It was so cinematic. Previous movies were very bright and shiny, while this movie was dark and grimy, entirely shot at night. It rains constantly and the city is shrouded in fog.
I was very influenced by the cinematographic techniques of the seventies: we shot a lot with zoom! And there are no drone shots in the film or crazy CGI camera shots that are physically impossible. The film has a very old retro feel. I was very influenced by movies like The Exorcist (and The Exorcist 3!), Don’t Look Now and The Shining. You can really feel the texture in this film. Nothing in this city feels high-tech. It feels ruinous. I wanted Raccoon City to feel a bit like the city from Deer Hunter; a ghost town forgotten by the rest of the world. And the whole structure of the movie was definitely heavily influenced by Assault on Precinct 13.
IGN: How are the character and creature designs in your film different from what fans of the previous games and films know?
Johannes Roberts: We always came back to the game every time we looked at the characters, the creatures and the places. It was our guiding star. As I said before, we work very closely with Capcom. Every character and creature is from the game and as such I wanted to be as faithful as possible. I wanted to create a truly immersive feeling for the fans. But that also became the hardest part of adapting a piece of IP like this because I didn’t just want to put the game on the screen, it had to be something of its own with characters and living, breathing creatures (and of course zombies!) that he felt faithful to the world. There is something great there. I mean some of the creature stuff looks fucking amazing. It was a mix of prosthetics, CGI, and creature artists. There are some wonderfully strange things in there. You’ll immediately recognize the creatures from the game but hopefully we’ve gone beyond the game in terms of making these terrifying creations look like they could actually exist in real life.
IGN: Can you talk about casting the roles of Leo and Jill and what you wanted to accomplish with that?
Johannes Roberts: It was very important throughout the casting process to find people who embodied the spirit and energy of the characters I wanted to play. I think oftentimes in game adaptations one of the big flaws can be casting someone to visually resemble the characters – giving them the same haircut and clothes, but not really trying to give the audience what What a movie does better than a game, which is create a three-dimensional character that you can really connect with and believe in. I think, as I said before, one of the pitfalls of falling into game adaptations is making it feel like a giant cosplay version of the game.
Our cast is obviously much more diverse than the original games, but I wanted to resist the trap of only casting because someone looked identical to their character. In fact, we had a lot of actors come in and visually recreate themselves perfectly as the character they were reading. Sometimes it was weird, ha! – but it wasn’t what I felt this story needed. With Jill, I knew Hannah from Ready Player One and this show that she was on at the time called The Stranger and I knew she would be perfect. Leon was much more difficult. We should have seen so many people; It was actually quite a difficult role due to the balance between humor and exhaustion. So Avan read and thought he is the one! He understands it.
IGN: What was your overall design philosophy for differentiating the creature designs for this movie from existing movies and games?
Johannes Roberts: There’s actually a lot of stuff that’s never been in any movie before, to be honest, which is exciting. And even the things that we’ve seen before, I won’t reveal, but there are some iconic creatures that fans will be happy to see. We’ve really done our best to make them feel like characters, we really focused on each individual. creature, be it a zombie, a raven, a Doberman or… (I won’t spoil the rest), but it’s never about huge wide shots of faceless hordes: it’s about detail. It’s about really connecting with that individual creature in that moment. Making it feel like a living, breathing thing. Feeling our characters’ disbelief at what is unfolding.
John Carpenter is the master of this. Watch The Thing – Every moment of the creature is treated like a work of art, you can marvel at its full glory. It’s never just a hundred things thrown at you. There is true personality and life in each creature piece. And the reactions of the characters feel so honest and real. And the fear is then very real. I kept this in mind when filming Resident Evil, especially when recreating moments like the zombie turning the game around, as well as when things get REALLY crazy towards the end. I really invite the audience to enjoy the creations we have made. screen. I can’t wait for people to see them all in all their glory!
IGN: How much does Lisa Trevor’s story come into play in this movie? And what is the importance of including it here? In this film?
Johannes Roberts: Lisa Trevor is actually a pivotal role in the movie. She always fascinated me when she played the remake of the first game. I found her character unsettling for her and at the same time strangely unsettling for her. When we were discussing how to bring this story to life, that was one of the elements that I really wanted to highlight, as she has never been in any of the filmed versions of Resident Evil. I wanted her to be a three-dimensional character, not just a creepy specter. We cast Marina Mazepa, who had just done Malignant for James Wan and really worked hard to bring this character to life in a way that I think fans will love. She is terrifying but also tragic. In the film, we really connected her to Claire Redfield’s story, starting with the orphanage where Claire grew up.
All Resident Evil Game Reviews from IGN
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City opens only in theaters on November 24, 2021 in the US, December 3 in the UK, and November 25 in Australia.