Resident Evil

Resident Evil (15)

ANY self-respecting teen of recent vintage will be familiar with the phenomenon that was Resident Evil – a super gory computer game that pitted a team of commandos against legions of the living dead.

Naturally Hollywood has jumped on the bandwagon and, lo, we have the movie version – something of a disappointment for gore fans with its 15 rating, but still a cut above many of the stalk-and-slash horror flicks that have emerged over the past few years.

The plot, taken almost line for line from the game’s premise, centres on a crack special forces unit working deep inside an underground base where a supercomputer called the Red Queen has “gone homicidal” and bumped off 500 workers.

The team, led by British action man Colin Salmon, must reach the Queen and shut it down before making its way back to the surface. What none of them realise is that all the dead people aren’t actually dead at all, but have been reanimated by a secret virus and are now prowling the maze of corridors in search of live meat.

Throw in two amnesiacs, played by Milla Jovovich and James Purefoy, a gutsy female soldier called Rain (Girlfight‘s Michelle Rodriguez) and a snivelling office worker (Eric Mabius) and this disparate group must battle through hordes of the recently ambulatory deceased and avoid the machinations of the Red Queen if they wish to see daylight again.

In the hands of Geordie filmmaker Paul Anderson, of Event Horizon fame, Resident Evil becomes a significant, action-packed, thrill-a-minute entry in modern horror.

Embracing the established movie lore of the zombie genre – they crave human flesh, can infect people with bites and can only be killed by a well-aimed bullet/axe/hammer to the noggin – Anderson comes up with a scarifying tale that is part 2001: A Space Odyssey (a mad computer), part Dawn of the Dead (zombies take over society) and part Aliens (deadly creatures run amok).

There are also many reverent references to the cult movies of American ‘zombie king’ George (Night of the Living Dead) Romero while the throbbing, pulsating soundtrack racks up the tension.

Jovovich and Rodriguez, the two ass-kicking female stars, really give 110 per cent as the hard-as-nails ladies at the core of the action, and their performances combined with the milieu of endless corridors and dark tunnels designed for frequent zombie attacks, help make Resident Evil more than just a video game rip-off.

There are some genuinely frightening moments, especially when Salmon, Jovovich and Co are surrounded by dozens of slavering deadheads in a murky basement. Then there are the Doberman guard dogs that have died and returned to life.

Perhaps the most imaginative sequence involves the commandos and a laser sentry that cuts through them like a warm knife through butter, leaving at least one man sliced and diced in a tidy pile on the floor.

Where the film falls flat, however, is in its use of computer-generated imagery to create a thoroughly unconvincing supermonster that tears through the roof of a train.

The film doesn’t need it and, what’s more, someone like Romero wouldn’t have used it. He prefers his creatures to be real, rank and rotting. And that’s just how it should be.

A sequel is already in the works.

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