Last we heard about Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, the film had been delayed by two months from its initial September 3rd release date, being shifted forward to November 24th, 2021. This time we have much greater news for those looking forward to the upcoming movie reboot, with not only our first-ever look at the film but lots of new details from its director, Johannes Roberts.
Leon and Claire
The first image shows Avan Jogia as Leon S. Kennedy and Kaya Scodelario as Claire Redfield in what looks like the backstreets of Raccoon City. Leon is rocking his R.P.D police uniform and Claire has her iconic red jacket, both locked and loaded and ready for whatever threat awaits them around the next corner.
Roberts described how Leon comes across in the film. “In this movie he is not at all an action hero — he’s slightly out of his depth, very hungover, and cannot believe the s**t that is going down on his first day. The events of the film help create the ‘hero’ Leon they know from the games.” Roberts also described a “[John] Carpenter vibe to his character,” writing him with a cross of Big Trouble in Little China character Jack Burton and The Thing protagonist R.J. MacReady in mind.
Jill, Chris, Wesker, and Richard
The second image, from left to right, shows Tom Hopper as Albert Wesker, Chad Rook as Richard Aiken, Hannah John-Kamen as Jill Valentine, and Robbie Amell as Chris Redfield. The group appears to be standing at the entrance of the original game’s iconic Spencer Mansion. One interesting change here is that, in the original game, Richard and the rest of the S.T.A.R.S Bravo team were already at the mansion by the time Alpha team (Jill, Chris, and Wesker) arrived, with Chris or Jill finding him wounded in a corridor by the giant B.O.W snake Yawn.
“Jill was such a fun character to play around with – a sort of live-wire, small-town girl – she’s kick-ass but not in a superhuman way,” Roberts explains. “You really feel scared for her when shit goes down. Hannah John-Kamen really brought her to life!”
The final image depicts the tragic figure of Lisa Trevor, an invulnerable mutant from the 2002 remake of the first Resident Evil game. Lisa was the daughter of George Trevor, the architect who built the Spencer Mansion. Lisa was abducted and used in many of Umbrella’s nefarious experiments, causing her grotesquely mutated appearance seen during the events of the mansion incident. Like in the game, Lisa appears to be wearing her mother’s peeled-off face in the shot below. Roberts describes her as having “quite a pivotal role in the movie.”
Elaborating on Lisa, Roberts says, “I wanted her to be a three-dimensional character, not just some creepy specter. We cast Marina Mazepa, who had just done Malignant for James Wan and really worked hard in bringing this character to life in a way I think the fans are going to love so much.” He also revealed another interesting change from the lore of the game series. “She’s terrifying but also tragic. In the movie, we really connect her to Claire Redfield’s story, starting with the orphanage where Claire grew up.”
Roberts described work on the movie set and how he worked closely with Capcom to make the environments authentic. “We worked hand-in-hand with Capcom on this movie… to the point that we actually got blueprints from them on the designs of the Spencer Mansion and Raccoon police station in order to recreate them as perfectly as we could,” he says. “We even have the exact artwork up on the mansion walls. Capcom saw it for the first time the other day and was so happy and excited.”
As for how the movie was shot, Roberts says, “I was very influenced by seventies filmmaking techniques — we shot using zooms a lot! And there are no drone shots in the movie or crazy CGI camera shots that are physically impossible. The movie has a very old-school retro feel to it. I was hugely influenced by movies like The Exorcist (and Exorcist 3!), Don’t Look Now, and The Shining.”
He also touched on how he brought the zombie-infested Raccoon City to life. “You can really feel the texture in this movie. Nothing in this town feels hi-tech. It feels dilapidated. I wanted Raccoon City to feel a bit like the town in Deer Hunter; a ghost town forgotten by the rest of the world. And the whole structure of the film was definitely very influenced by Assault on Precinct 13.”
Discussing creature designs, Roberts teases that there is “quite a lot that has never been in any previous movie” and “there are some iconic creatures fans will be so happy to see,” which may indicate that we’ll see monsters such as Hunters or even the larger B.O.W.s such as Yawn (the giant snake), Neptune (the infected great white shark), or Black Tiger (the supersized spider). He explains that “it’s never huge wide shots of faceless hordes — it’s about detail. It’s about really connecting with that individual creature at that time. Making it feel like a living breathing thing. Feeling our characters’ disbelief at what is unfolding.”
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City will debut in theaters on November 24th, 2021 in the US, December 3rd in the UK, and November 25th in Australia.
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