In contemporary zombie movies, there’s a very made-up script about how to treat (and not dress) a wound inflicted by a zombie. Usually, a victim is publicly bitten, resulting in quick self-sacrifice or frantic arguments between those who want to get rid of them immediately and those who want to spare them momentarily; or, bringing out the latter, a victim hides the bite from her, hoping it doesn’t actually affect them, until it’s too late. In all of these variations, the spin tends to take only a few minutes, even if those minutes of screen time are actually compressed into several hours or even a couple of days.
the demonic resident the series may not be operating in a very different timeline, medically speaking; in the third episode, Billie’s zombie dog bite is still relatively fresh, maybe a day or two ago. But whether it’s following uncompressed TV storytelling or daringly delving into an area many horror movies quickly skip through, this show has lingered between initial infection and full-blown zombie sickness. “The Light” puts a specific time frame on it: it takes about three days. That’s how long it took at the Umbrella factory where the above incident was covered up, that’s the figure Wesker cites in a board meeting where he’s trying to warn about the dangers of the drug Umbrella’s Joy, and that’s how long it seems be taking to transform. the boy whose parents Jade meets while she was on the run in 2036. With Billie in 2022, we see the process in particularly slow motion: increased strength, numbness to pain, hallucinations, sensitivity to bright light.
It’s pretty normal by viral standards, but long enough to offer cruel hope to victims and their families alike. And despite their place further down the apocalyptic timeline, the family Jade meets and travels with has a certain amount of denial. When Jade informs them that Umbrella sent the drone whose attack she intercepted and disrupted her escape ferry, her mother reacts with a cautious “they wouldn’t!” They’re just trying to follow the rules and stay alive; it is not surprising that they keep hoping that they can cure their son. So much so that the father even sacrifices himself by keeping the underground Chunnel Beasts at bay (technically, they meet them in the A way of the London/Paris Chunnel, but isn’t it more fun to think of them as Chunnel Beasts?) to save the life of their doomed son, in the hope that the mysterious Brotherhood has a cure. Jade may have a chance to find out for herself: at the end of the episode, Umbrella corners her again, only to be rescued and knocked out by what appear to be Brotherhood soldiers.
Before that happens, Jade is separated from her fellow passengers, warning them before and after an attack from a really twisted giant mutant spider that they must leave their infected son behind: “He’s not yours.” Her words are doubly chilling; she is obviously speaking from experience when she insists that once someone is infected, he is not the same person and is no longer capable of love. Young Jade has not yet come to this conclusion, but she watches in horror as Billie continues to succumb to her illness (with the show offering Billie’s point of view through blood-soaked, vomit-filled hallucinations/premonitions). . Jade berates her hacker friend Simon for more files on Umbrella’s misdeeds, but the company has upgraded her security. Also, it turns out that Simon’s mother is Evelyn Marcus, the CEO of Umbrella.
This brings us to the weakest point of this episode: Umbrella’s corporate machinations. This includes Evelyn Marcus as the demanding CEO and Albert Wesker as the more principled but personally committed subordinate. The episode opens with Evelyn giving an on-camera interview… and real-life CEOs sometimes say something as vilely infamous as “they say you can’t put a price on joy… but you sure can, if you bottle it!” without at least trying to cover it up with altruism or vapid cheering? When Evelyn’s writing is aimed at, at the very least, making her not seem like an obvious villain, it’s just a sloppy, disruptive gimmick: “It’s not about the stock price…it’s about changing the world.” (And follows her by laughing at the mind-control potential of the Joy pill with “Who hasn’t had a Xanny and gone looking for Louboutins?”) Shouldn’t I put more emphasis on Joy’s allegedly ultra-low risk of overdose? , feigning concern instead of dismissing it with cutesy lines? Yes, real CEOs are probably that evil. But they mostly don’t publicly telegraph their own evil in such a derisive, subtext-free way. If they do, it sure isn’t particularly persuasive or insightful here. She’s just a light version of the evil cartoon Umbrella who made funny and goofy villains in the demonic resident films.
Boardroom chat isn’t nearly as exhilarating as reframing a zombie virus as a slow-motion demise. Three days may not seem like a particularly long time to go from hurt and worried to impulsive and violent, but demonic resident does a deft job of instilling fear, either for the fate of the near-strangers left in the tunnels, whom we may never see again, or for Billie, who seems to know full well not to believe her sister’s insistence that everything will finally be alright.
• For a shadow-friendly series that has included scenes of characters running through dark sewer tunnels, demonic resident has done a remarkable job of avoiding the cloudy vision of modern television. Director Rob Seidenglanz stages the creature attacks in the 2036 section with the right mix of show and hide, and there are some nice cuts of coincidences between 2022 and 2036 victims of the T-Virus infection.
• A previous T-Virus mishap is said to have occurred in “Old” Raccoon City; hence New Raccoon City, near Cape Town, where the characters from 2022 live. This doesn’t really matter, but it does feel a bit like the writers are leaving room in their continuity for some prior form of demonic resident media co-exist in this world of TV shows, as if maybe one of the games could take place in that first iteration of Raccoon City. (It’s probably just an excuse to have data for Jade and Simon to use in the first place, but it’s fun to think about.)