Set around 30 years after the Raccoon City outbreak that was the focus of the first three games, Netflix’s live-action Resident Evil series proves itself to be a faithful adaptation of the action-horror franchise. Though the show is light when it comes to scares, it nevertheless builds upon the established timeline in intriguing ways, while creating its own gripping narrative that Resi veterans will appreciate, even if it is accessible enough for newcomers to pick up along the way. With it’s slow-burn approach, however, viewers will need to wait until the third episode for the action to ramp up.
The show is split between two timelines. The first takes place in 2022 and follows a still-alive Albert Wesker (Lance Reddick) moving to New Raccoon City (situated in South Africa) alongside his twin daughters Jade (Tamara Smart) and Billie (Siena Agudong). When an incident at the Umbrella labs inevitably goes horribly wrong, the T-Virus once again becomes a threat to public safety. The second thread is set 14 years later in a world overrun with zombies and mutated creatures as an older Jade (Ella Balinska) attempts to return to her family with the shady megacorporation in pursuit.
Though the latter plotline is stuffed with over-the-top and gory zombie action (a suspenseful and violent encounter with lickers being a highlight), this story arc falls short when it comes to its central relationships, given that the characters Jade meets don’t stick around for long. The side effect of this is that the heavy emotional beats don’t hit as hard as they could have done if these interactions were better developed.
The 2022 plotline is by far the strongest part of the show. Stellar performances from Smart and Agudong form the foundation of the ensuing drama and give viewers a reason to care about their plight as the emerging horrors begin to take hold. Meanwhile the unveiling of sinister secrets adds an element of mystery that, at this point, has only begun to take shape.
The focus on action over horror may come as a disappointment to those looking to get a fix of some survival horror. However, the show’s take on action is more in line with the gripping exhilaration of Resident Evil 4 than the absurdity of the sixth instalment, and that’s only a good thing. In short, Netflix’s Resident Evil is a bloody great time.
Resident Evil is released on Netflix on 14th July 2022.
Watch the trailer for Resident Evil here: