Developed and Produced by Capcom
Available on Everything (Reviewed for PS4)
Rated M for Mature
At this point, I don’t even have jokes to make about the constant Capcom conveyor belt of re-whatevers. In an equally sad and impressive manner, capcom have actually changed the game of putting out the same shit all over again. It all started with the GameCube, when the original Resident Evil got a fresh new remake. Now this is the best example of how to redo a game. New bosses, layout, puzzles, visuals… it was practically a whole new game. This is the upper echelon of the “remake” bracket. Then we have the “remasterings,” like we had with with the exact same Resident Evil remake two years ago. This time on the PS4, Xbox One, and PC, this remastering of the GameCube remake of a Playstation title came with updated costumes, graphics, and jiggle physics. Then we have the plain old re-releases, with maybe a resolution update and chugging on a new engine. Oh hello there, Resident Evil: Revelations. Were your ears burning?
Yes, Revelations is one of those re-releases with little to add on the original. Aside from a new Raid Mode map, this is the same game we saw on the 3DS. Well, minus some of the 3DS gimmicks. This is actually fantastic, as I realized halfway through Resident Evil: Revelations that I had never beaten it. I know I owned it on the 3DS (and I think the PS3?), but either I was incredibly drunk or simply didn’t finish it. I’ve also been meaning to start a series of retro reviews, so what perfect timing to both finish a game I never beat and review it in a modern context. So, does Resident Evil: Revelations hold up?
I’ll skip forward a bit by saying that Revelations holds up okay. But not for the reasons you might think. There’s a good deal of context with Revelations you have to shuck off before looking at it with fresh eyes. Back before Resident Evil 7 came about and legitimately changed what we expect from a Resident Evil game, Resident Evil: Revelations was heralded as the, “return to survival horror for the Resident Evil franchise.” As I sat on a minigun, firing streams of bullets and rockets into a multi-tendrilled parasite monster the size of a boat, I wondered just what kind of crack the reviewers of yesteryear were smoking. I mean hell, the series hadn’t even been brought to its action zenith with RE6. I guess after RE4 and 5, fans couldn’t fathom what was still in store for them.
On the other hand, I too remember the days where RE4 clones ruled the marketplace. Dead Space 2 had come out the year before, Gears of War was still in full swing, and only indie games like Amnesia cared to be hardcore horror. Outlast wouldn’t drop for another year. Hell, even Slender hadn’t come out yet. So it’s understandable that any game that actually limited your ammo and threw some spooks in would be considered a return to old-school survival horror.
When compared to Resident Evil 7, calling Resident Evil: Revelations even creepy is laughable. Even without RE7, the trend of horror games being more horror-ey is now well established. I mean hell, Narcosis managed to be a far scarier nautical horror story than Revelations, and it didn’t even have shambling abominations. So in a modern context, Resident Evil: Revelations is hardly frightening.
As a shooter, the game is okay. It’s Resident Evil post-4 and pre-7, so you know how it plays. You move with pseudo-tank controls, hold one trigger to aim, the other to fire, and kick when prompted. It’s a remarkably simple formula that hinges on a balance between the control limitations and the combat difficulty. To Revelation’s credit they hit a sweet spot in enemy toughness. It takes a good chunk of bullets to take down even the basic dudes, and there’s a healthy roster of beefier dudes to soak up several buckets of ammo. I’ve played so many games at this point that I rarely die, so I’ll give Revelations some props for leading me to at least half a dozen game over screens. With the limited ammo carrying capacity and five healing item cap I felt that my decisions and combat skills were well rewarded.
That being said, why the hell has Capcom just gone further and further away from the Resident Evil 4 merchant? It worked perfectly fine. You got gold for killing enemies and doing cool stuff, and exchanged that gold in for guns and goodies. Similar to RE6, Revelations uses this bizarre gun perk system. Rather than good ol’ upgrades, you get parts that can be installed in slots on the various firearms for increased effectiveness. So if you want your assault rifle to hit harder, you throw in a Damage 2 part and hit for 30% more damage. There are only so many slots for each gun, so theoretically you can mix and match to create your favorite specialized arsenal. In practice, you just switch out your highest level parts. You can only carry three guns, and there’s no restriction on swapping out upgrades. So rather than saving up my hard earned credits for that special shotgun capacity upgrade, there’s just another step of menu item management.
Aside from the narrative neutron bomb that was Resident Evil 6, this is also the most plot dense Resident Evil I can remember. Resident Evil plots have always been known for being incredibly dense and absolutely garbage, but mostly have had the decency to stay out of the way. To recap, I have played every single Resident Evil game, and I can tell you 0% of what is actually going on.
Revelations is supposed to bridge that crucial gap between the events of Resident Evil 4 and 5, where we went from saving the president’s daughter from bug-monsters in spain to annihilating slug-monster blobs in Africa. So of course that means killing leach monsters on a boat. Seriously, don’t even try to figure out what is going on in Revelations without several notepads handy. Acronyms like the FBC and the BSAA are thrown at you willy nilly, and don’t expect them to explain to you what each group actually does. The crown jewel of terrible storytelling was when they throw in a surprise sister ship as a mid-game red herring, only to one up themselves with a THIRD sister ship plot twist in the final act.
That’s not even mentioning that it takes them four different character perspectives to explain the whole hot mess. You’ll spend the main game playing as series sweetheart Jill Valentine. Investigating the Queen Zenobia with your fellow BSAA agent Parker Luciani, you’re on the hunt for series muscle-monster Chris Redfield. Turns out that the ship is a trap and Chris is actually with his partner Jessica in a snowy mountain range in Eastern Europe. How the fuck they got the middle of the Mediterranean Sea and a Soviet mountain base mixed up is beyond me.
You’ll switch between Chris and Jill as they both tell their side of an ever expanding conspiracy plot. You’ll also switch to Parker for a few flashbacks, just in case you wanted to run around some hallways shooting hunters for a minute. And if that didn’t break the flow enough for you, you also play through a number of chapters as the racially harmonious Keith and Quint. One of them is a computer guy who sounds like a bad Bill Burr impression, and the other has soft rap music playing in the background when he walks on screen. Go ahead and guess their ethnicities.
So the plot is a dumpster fire, the combat is decent, and it’s not scary. Why did I say Resident Evil: Revelations holds up? Despite some of the more questionable elements, there’s just something undeniably charming about it. The plot is so aggressively bad, and so unabashedly in your face about it, that I really want to bring it to an ironic movie night. There are also glimpses of old school brilliance that remind us of what this classic formula is capable of. There are some rewarding puzzles, and enough backtracking to scratch that key-collecting itch. Taking into account this was originally a 3DS game, you have to respect how much they packed into so little space.
I haven’t even talked about the scanning mechanic, but I don’t think I really have to. It’s a vestigial relic of the game’s origins in another era. From the episodic structure to the bearded super-villain quoting Dante while blowing up cities with a space laser, there is so much that just doesn’t make sense. Still, it’s overall a good deal of fun. If you go into it wanting some classic Resident Evil action with even more classic Resident Evil cheese, Resident Evil: Revelations delivers. It’s clearly not the best in the series, but worth experiencing if you’re already a fan.
American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo
Directed by Colin Bemis
Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.
The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.
As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!
Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.
Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.
In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.
On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.
In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.
Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)
We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.
In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!
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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
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