The Resident Evil movie series has always been a sort of “hot button” topic with horror and video game fans alike. Let’s face it; there are some insanely fun moments (a man diced into tiny bits by lasers stands out in my mind) and some highly cringe-worthy moments (whenever the film turns into The Matrix… usually in the finale). Fans won’t deny their love of the original film, so a return to “The Hive” in this final chapter should have folks anticipating the premiere date in a way we haven’t seen for some time!d
Dread Central caught up with Paul W.S. Anderson at New York Comic Con to talk about monsters and the women who kill them as well as coming full circle.
The movie kicks off right where we left off in Washington, D.C., but first we get a 5-minute history lesson on the Umbrella Corporation. This is NOT a recap like we’ve seen before, catching a new audience up with previous film plots. “It’s one of the things we’ve done in this movie… we’ve explained a lot. There’s a lot that’s a mystery about the Umbrella Corporation and there’s a lot that’s a mystery about Alice’s character because in the first movie she had memory loss and we never addressed that. You never really discovered who Alice is… how she really related to the Umbrella Corporation, and in this movie, all of those questions fans might have will be answered.”
I’m loving that we finally get deeper into the mythology of this series. Paul mentions that narrative-wise, the film is more sophisticated than any they’ve done before. Being the finale, there’s emotional content with Alice people might not expect from a Resident Evil film. I asked if that material is more appealing to him or would he rather just blow things up and throw monsters at his wife and franchise star, Milla Jovovich? Paul laughed and replied, “It is appealing… I find myself tearing up at the end, and that level of emotion is not something I’m supposed to display. I’m British. Stiff upper lip and all that. But this is the end of a journey, and that gets to me.” He imagines the greater depth of emotional attachment to Alice will only raise the level of horror in the film. I added that it’s always good to make your audience cry right before you cut someone’s head off.
As we began to talk about scares we favor, Paul remarked, “I made a movie called Event Horizon, and I think this is the scariest movie I’ve made since then. This is a very scary film. The first movie in the franchise, since it was in one location, it had a claustrophobic intensity to it. As the franchise has gone on, I think it’s been more associated with action. This is definitely a return to horror, but it’s not a straight horror movie. We kind of alternate horror with action so really, it’s relentless. There’s lots of intense action, intense horror and then intense action again.”
I asked if they often go back to the video games for inspiration, and Paul immediately replied, “YES! There are some really horrible, abominable, terrifying creatures in this movie that come straight from the game. The Blood Sharks… the big flying creature you glimpsed at the end of the last movie. He’s in the movie quite a bit in this film. The dogs are back and better than ever. The scene with them I’m very, very proud of. We really executed the dogs in the way they should have been done. Working with dogs there’s obviously a lot of limitations and I remember in the first Resident Evil game, there was an animated sequence at the beginning where characters are being chased into the woods by these dogs. It’s really intense. I feel like we finally put that on-screen. This film has the best dog scene in the franchise!”
So we’ve got a new level of intensity, deeper emotional content and an attempt to raise the bar on the franchise’s horrors. “The film is very gritty and very real which I think makes it more immersive. The last film was intentionally very stylized with a science fiction look and there was a lot of slow motion. This movie is a complete reaction to that. It’s primarily shot on location… very few sets. It’s all that gritty, dirty, intense realism. There’s no slow motion in it, just… hell for leather gritty realism.”
Being the last film in the series, Paul mentions this is a more personal film for him, tying up what he started 15 years ago. “It’s actually using a lot of ideas I had back then. The idea that The Hive is a malevolent force in itself. They were trapped in an environment that wanted to kill them. That kind of came from classic haunted house movies like The Shining and The Haunting. There were ideas that I had that we just couldn’t execute. We didn’t have the budget or the technology wasn’t there yet, so we get to go back to The Hive; and some of those ideas I had, I finally get to put on-screen and it was amazing. Some of the things you’ll see in the new trailer, like this huge turbine… it’s really, really terrifying. It’s a return to an environment where nothing is safe. This is definitely a darker film. You have these real landscapes and then the last half of the film we go to The Hive so we get very focused… very claustrophobic… tight… very intense.”
We asked about the level of gore we can expect, again thinking heavily on the slice and dice moment where the S.T.A.R.S. soldier becomes the stuff of Slapchop dreams. Paul emphatically replies, “It gets pretty nasty. It’s the first time since Event Horizon where I’ve seen people turn away from the screen… like that moment when a thing happen and you’re just like (makes a guttural sound) … like you just can’t bear to watch! … It happens a lot in this film.”
There was absolutely a drive to top the scares of the first film we all love. Paul acknowledges the raw power of the first film, saying the other movies do have their place, but if every film after the first were shot in one location with the same elements, they probably wouldn’t have gone on for 6 movies, but it was exciting to go back and re-address those elements with a 2016 sensibility.
I asked if they had gotten to all the monsters on their checklist over the course of the series. Paul’s eyes light up at the thought of all those creatures and replied, “I always wanted to do the flying creature, but it was a struggle to figure out how Milla would fight a flying creature but we finally figured it out. So I’m very excited about that. In the later games, the dogs were always my favorite and we’ve done them the best we ever have, but then there’s the Blood Shark with all these overlapping teeth. He’s very ugly. He’s kind of like a land shark. You know how people are terrified of sharks because of that mouth? Well… he’s got that, and then feet so he can run around. A shark with legs with all the flesh flayed off it! It’s really horrible and disgusting.” You’ll never think of the “Saturday Night Live” skit the same way again.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter was written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson and stars series regulars Milla Jovovich, Iain Glen, Ali Larter, and Shawn Roberts in addition to newcomers Lee Joon-gi, Rola, William Levy, and Ruby Rose.
Look for it on January 27, 2017.
Picking up immediately after the events in Resident Evil: Retribution, humanity is on its last legs after Alice is betrayed by Wesker in Washington, D.C. As the only survivor of what was meant to be humanity’s final stand against the undead hordes, Alice must return to where the nightmare began – Raccoon City, where the Umbrella Corporation is gathering its forces for a final strike against the only remaining survivors of the apocalypse.
In a race against time, Alice will join forces with old friends and an unlikely ally in an action-packed battle with undead hordes and new mutant monsters. Between losing her superhuman abilities and Umbrella’s impending attack, this will be Alice’s most difficult adventure as she fights to save humanity, which is on the brink of oblivion.