It’s hard to overstate just how thoroughly director Paul W.S. Anderson managed to bury any goodwill that the average film fan might have toward the Resident Evil franchise over the course of six awful movies—and trust us, we’ve tried to overstate it as often as possible. His incredibly nepotistic film series, starring his own wife Milla Jovovich, is a Gordian knot of repeated plot points, action set pieces and monsters that only becomes more inscrutable, the more you try to untangle it. It’s among the most soulless of all big budget Hollywood series of the last two decades, and that’s saying something.
So you’ll have to take the promises of writer Greg Russo with a grain of salt, when he makes it sound as if director-producer James Wan is going to save the Resident Evil name with his planned reboot. Still, we guess it’s hopeful news to hear that the writer’s screenplay for said reboot has an interest in returning the series to its “horror roots,” as originally seen on the Playstation 1. In a recent interview, Russo said the following:
I worked on the reboot for about a year and then Producer James Wan came in, my involvement on that project has kind of concluded, so I’m not sure what they’ll really do with it, I submitted my draft to the producers and they were happy with it and ultimately they’ll do what they will with the property but I’m currently not involved with that film.
Obviously, I’m a huge fan of the franchise so to work on that was a lot of fun. And they’ve made six films before so when you come back to that and reboot it, you wanna do something different and not just rehash.
For me it was very clear-cut that I wanted to go back and make it scary again like a horror film in terms of the classic James Wan style so that was the pitch, going back and looking what made the games scary in the first place so yeah, Resident Evil 7 was a bit of a touchstone for my draft.
… not to shame the original film franchise that was made, I think that did very well, when you create a fresh reboot and look at the over the top action of the Paul Anderson franchise, it was fun and really cool but at the end of the day, for me as a fan of the original game franchise, I always considered the franchise to be horror at the forefront and action as a secondary feature. So it just made sense to go back to the horror roots.
Well, that’s probably more or less like what most fans would want to hear, right? It’s interesting to hear Russo say that Resident Evil 7 in particular is serving as an inspiration, given that this entry in the series has a much more limited scope than some of the globe-trotting previous entries. Perhaps James Wan will look to rekindle some of that same haunted house magic he used so effectively in films like The Conjuring?
Wan is obviously an incredibly busy guy right now, wrapping up final production on Aquaman and shepherding the entire expanded universes of The Conjuring and Insidious among other things, so it’s not known how long we’ll have to wait before a more concrete foundation forms beneath the Resident Evil reboot. If Wan ends up personally directing the project, though, it will be in some pretty competent hands at the very least.
Oh, and if you’re feeling bad for Paul W.S. Anderson, just remember that he’s moved on to ruining the Monster Hunter series of videogames now.