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Resident Evil

Resident Evil (Netflix)

We take out the chainsaw to review Netflix's new Resident Evil series.

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When two twin sisters and their workaholic father move into a cut-off South African suburb, the usual teenage problems arise: a father who never listens, fitting into the new school hierarchy, acrimonious sibling conflicts and deadly viruses that lead to zombie apocalypses. OMG! #zombiegirlproblems! Resident Evil is the latest in a series of zombie efforts from Netflix, which here jumps back and forth in time to tell the story of how the world ended and what happens after the world ends - stories dripping with indie pop, teen angst and bad decisions.

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Sometimes I don't know what happens at Netflix headquarters when pitches like "How about turning Albert Wesker into a family man?!" get the green light, because it always becomes clear that this kind of show creator does everything in their power to avoid the source material as much as possible. It's a bit reminiscent of the attitude of the people behind the Halo series; it feels like a kind of contempt is being built up for the fans in a valiant attempt to reach a younger audience who are most likely not interested in Resident Evil. Fans will recognise details from Capcom's horror successes, but that's really where the similarities to the games stop.

For example, there are a few scenes involving Lickers and Dr. Salvador that are quite entertaining and delightfully slapstick. There are plenty of oversized monster animals for those who like that sort of thing. There's also a horrific episode where the sisters solve a puzzle as their dad, which I suppose tries to capture the puzzle element from the games. But this isn't Resident Evil, not at all. Zombies and the title are probably the only things the TV series and the video games have in common, otherwise the makers of this brain-dead Netflix venture seem to have just searched around for some references from some Wiki site to create the illusion that this was connected to the games. The TV series could have just as easily been called "Help! My dad's a monster!" and stood on its own two feet to reel in new fans, but because Netflix was so eager to ride the fan hype, it has instead further damaged the games' good name.

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The dialogue and script are on par with the awful new version of Cowboy Bebop, constantly oscillating between childish and downright dumb. Umbrella Corp. boss Evelyn (played by Paola Núñez) accounts for perhaps the series' most horrific lines, and sounds more like a teenager than the main characters themselves. In fact, several of the adult characters act more like children than the kids themselves, and she has an unexpected dance scene that has quickly established itself as the worst scene ever in the RE world. Resident Evil may never have been Shakespeare directly, but its unseemliness is endearing because of two successful aspects: charming characters and a bells-and-whistles horror atmosphere. The show lacks both ingredients, and its forced attempts at humour thus only add more nonsense to a story that already lacks any sensible context. The scariest thing about the show is probably the fact that it was even produced.

It's tragic when Paul W.S. Anderson's much-maligned Resident Evil films seem like masterpieces by comparison, because no matter how much the poor actors try to give the premise emotional depth, it always lands flat thanks to the script's clichéd teen drama. Moreover, the driving conflict between sisters Billie (who bears a striking resemblance to performer Billie Eilish) and Jade is extremely bland, both in adult and teenage form. The story also becomes more clueless and hopeless the longer the show goes on, culminating in a fairly lousy ending that should've whetted my appetite but rather made me groan.

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The acting for the main characters is decent, but there's very little here for Resident Evil fans (unless you're into self-torture). The TV series feels like one of Netflix's many ventures that will most likely be shot in the back of the head and dumped in a ditch after a single season. Once viewers have been tricked into ploughing through, the streaming giant can continue with its evil plan to buy the rights to beloved franchises, distort everything fans loved about the source material, shut it down, blame "toxic fans" and move on to the next victim. If anything, that makes Netflix the TV world's equivalent of Umbrella right now...

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03 Gamereactor UK
3 / 10
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