If you haven’t been keeping track, the Resident Evil series—film, not videogame—just had its sixth and supposedly final chapter this year. And as I wrote, I utterly refused to believe it would end there. For a moment, though, I admit I was truly worried that I would know the sweet release of oblivion before I ever saw the end of this series. But no, according to reports, the next six films are being planned, courtesy of German studio Constantin Film, the very same house that brought the franchise screaming into the post-Matrix world and hasn’t let up since.
I barely had time to process this stupefying turn of events before I was confronted by something only slightly less astounding—a traveler from the future burst into my room. I’m afraid the resulting conversation revealed nothing of substance on how you can game the stock market to become rich or what every day practices you can engage in to stave off dementia or cancer. Sadly, he also was unable to make good on the damage to my car, which met its end in the center of the impact crater created by his arrival. But fortunately, there was one subject which he really just could not stop banging on about—Resident Evil. I could only do what I tend to do in most social situations, which is shrug and take copious notes.
Because I scoff at the Temporal Prime Directive and because it makes for a great Paste exclusive, here’s the first ever pre-retrospective of the Resident Evil franchise as it … turns? … turned? … will have been turning? … 30. (I’d better just write in the past tense.)
Resident Evil: Resurrection
Released: Feb. 8, 2019
Budget (marketing not included): $75 million
International Gross: $224 million
Director: Pierre Morel
Starring: Zoe Saldana, Michelle Rodriguez, that guy who looks exactly like Ted from How I Met Your Mother but knows parkour
Synopsis: A young woman awakens inside a gruesome farmhouse somewhere in a part of Middle America that looks a lot like Sofia, Bulgaria. Wendy (Saldana) finds herself at the mercy of a family of deformed and mutated zombie Midwesterners and their vicious zombie dog. Falling in with a captured special ops soldier who seems to have a strange psychic connection with the zombies (Rodriguez), the two discover that beneath the farmhouse lies a massive underground industrial complex run by the insidious Umbrella Corporation and dubbed “Neverland.” They parkour through it and kick zombie dogs in bullet-time, defeating a malicious AI named Peter Pan. Rodriguez dies for some reason—which is to say, for no good reason. Wendy awakens naked in a sterile white room and walks outside to find Vancouver under siege from zombies.
Industry Buzz: It seemed like a winning gamble. Passing the franchise over to action schlock-meister Pierre Morel and focusing the sensibilities on the passé parkour action of the late aughts rather than the passé black-coats-and-bullet-time-Matrix-ripoff action of the early aughts—with a nod to the popular Resident Evil 7 videogame, to boot—seemed like a fresh reboot of the series that would draw in new fans and invite old ones back. Unfortunately, disaster struck in post-production when an errant tweet from ex-president Donald Trump caused an offended China to stall the film until it couldn’t get a Chinese release, thus cutting it off from a major source of box office cash. Constantin Film scrambled to get it picked up in other territories, but the damage was done. Combined with its tepid domestic reception, there were probably more Taiwanese bootlegs with subtitles you couldn’t turn off than actual legal copies of this movie. Still, it made its money back and then some.
Resident Evil: Insurrection
Released: Jan. 14, 2022
Budget (marketing not included): $65 million
International Gross: $780 million
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich and her daughter, Zoe Saldana, Michelle Rodriguez, Wentworth Miller, Ali Larter, three or four other franchise prisoners
Synopsis: Wendy (Saldana, reprising her role from Resurrection) is somehow the leader of a group of New Raccoon City denizens who scavenge by day and fight off waves of vicious zombies by night, all while trying to avoid the hunter-killer squads of Umbrella Corporation mercenaries. Michelle Rodriguez is inexplicably part of the group. Scenes that look suspiciously like soundstage reshoots feature a shadowy protector bullet-timing and double-machine-gunning zombie dogs whenever Wendy gets in over her head. Wendy’s whole group, including Rodriguez, is killed unceremoniously in the second reel, and she is taken under the wing of another, better-armed group that include Chris and Claire Redfield (Miller and Larter, reprising their roles from previous entries). They team up to find and un-hypnotize Alice (Jovovich, reprising her role), who has been turned into an Umbrella cyborg with psychic powers. They kick zombie dogs in bullet-time and New Raccoon City gets nuked. Alice and Wendy escape to the mountains outside the destroyed city to engage in kung fu training.
Industry Buzz: The studio scrambled to get back star Milla Jovovich and long-running series director Paul W.S. Anderson to right the franchise’s ship. Anderson, fresh off the billion-dollar opening of Monster Hunter 4 (2021) graciously agreed, and Jovovich’s character was hastily written into late drafts of the script. Rumors of tensions on the set between her and Saldana almost derailed the production, but otherwise the movie wildly over-performed, with Ignatiy Vishnavetsky calling it “a triumphant return to form and a particularly welcome diversion in light of a year that saw California ripped from the continental United States by The Big One.”
Resident Evil: Rebirth or maybe Afterbirth?
Released: March 1, 2024
Budget (marketing not included): €90 million
International Gross: €1.1 billion
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Quvenzhané Wallis, Michelle Rodriguez, John Cusack, Michelle Rodriguez and Kurt Russell
Synopsis: Wendy (Wallis, stepping into Saldana’s role from the previous films) wakes up 75 percent naked in a sterile white room and tries to escape a pack of zombie dogs, who she kicks in the face while in bullet-time, but then gets killed by a laser hallway because it is all a dream that was part of the kung fu training she’s getting from Alice (Jovovich, reprising her role). Kung fu training dreams are a cyborg power Alice has now. She touches your head and you kung fu dream. She puts Wendy into another kung fu dream but it is interrupted when an Umbrella team dressed in black SWAT outfits and paintball gear captures Alice and drags her away in a helicopter, somehow leaving Wendy un-captured. Wendy teams up some anti-Umbrella resistance fighters and goes hand-to-hand with clones of Michelle Rodriguez to rescue Alice inside an underground facility controlled by a murderous AI. They rescue Alice but then everything explodes.
Industry Buzz: The film was a critical and commercial success, mostly due to the emergence of cognitively uplifted apes as an as-yet-untapped demographic. I was able to glean from my guest that kicking zombie dogs while in bullet-time produces an ASMR-like effect to the simian brain. If you want to know what spawned the Ape-sploitation craze of the 2020s, here’s the culprit.
Resident Evil: Underworld
Released: June 5, 2026
Budget (marketing not included): ¥74.41 trillion
International Gross: ¥337.6 trillion
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Kate Beckinsale, Michelle Rodriguez, Judi Dench uploaded into a robot, Michelle Rodriguez, Patrick Stewart, Michelle Rodriguez and Michelle Rodriguez
Synopsis: Alice (Jovovich, reprising her role) awakens 75 percent naked in a sterile white room 500 years after the last movie, where the Red Queen AI (Dench, because the AI ages? But slower than humans? But, like, it ages though?) explains that all of humanity has been wiped out by the T-Virus and the only lifeforms that survive are vicious Lycans, which are what we call werewolves now. Alice falls in with a group of vampire “death dealers” led by Selene (Beckinsale, reprising her role from the 14 other Underworld movies), and they kick zombie werewolves in bullet-time until they lure the head vampire (Rodriguez) into a trap and kill her. This for some reason causes all the werewolves to keel over and die because their bloodlines had been mixed with the vampires. I think?
Industry Buzz: It seemed inevitable that the industry’s two highest-ever-grossing film franchises would come together in a shared universe. I gathered this was done chiefly because nobody could tell either series apart by that point, anyway. Though critically reviled, it was hailed by the One World Government as precisely the stimulus package Bulgaria needed to re-assert its dominance as the successor to Hollywood.
2 Resident 2 Evil
Released: July 3, 2029 (Stardate 293550.84135591076)
Budget (marketing not included): 8.41789 Galactic Trade Federation Credits
Interplanetary Gross: 238.73813 Galactic Trade Federation Credits
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Zorlix Romuloid, Angelababy, Michelle Rodriguez, Michelle Rodriguez, Michelle Rodriguez and John Cleese
Synopsis: Smash cut from credits onto Wendy (Zorlix Romuloid, Gliese 581c’s hottest young actor, in a casting decision mandated by the Milky Way Citadel Council), who awakens 75 percent naked in a sterile white room for what a disembodied voice tells her is the 954th time, only to be beaten to death by a clone army of Michelle Rodriguezes. This scene is never referenced again, and the movie instead shifts focus to Wendy and Alice (Jovovich, reprising her role) as the two lead a scrappy group of survivors through a post-apocalyptic wasteland toward a vague distress beacon. The beacon leads to the Eiffel Tower, and they drive there even though you thought the movie was set in North America. Turns out it’s just a trap to lure unsuspecting survivors to what’s underneath the tower: A massive underground research facility filled with an army of clone Michelle Rodriguezes. Alice kills them and kicks zombie dogs in bullet-time, but while also in a laser hallway. She stops the beacon and wrecks the place, but is surrounded by an army of Umbrella troops with machineguns pointed at her. Who were all waiting on standby to just scramble to do that.
Industry Buzz: Dubbed “the movie that put Earth on the map,” 2R2E’s release right after the signing of the Europa Accords meant it also became the first film released to a galactic audience. It’s also the reason that, when you go to visit the Tannhäuser Gate, all the locals will constantly make slo-mo noises and start barking like dogs at you.
Resident Evil: Singularity
Released: Dec. 17, 2032
Budget (marketing not included): Post-scarcity
Recompense: 1.7 trillion life-hours
Director: The Overmind
Starring: A computer simulation of all life and thought, and Michelle Rodriguez
Synopsis: Time and space are functions of thought and all thought is one. The leg is the same as the zombie dog. It kicks the zombie dog in the same attitude and to the same purpose regardless of whether one’s perception of time advances at a normal speed mandated by human physiology, or at a slower rate enhanced by cinematic technique. The zombies and the humans for which they serve as allegory are one. There is no difference between the zombie, the Jovovich, the Rodriguez. The characters who are clones are clones, and the characters who are not clones also are clones, just as we are all the result of mutations and chance. From the chaos of the universe has been harvested order. There is matter and energy. There is a sterile white room, and a woman who wakes up 75 percent naked within that room. There is a hallway full of deadly lasers. There is a murderous artificial intelligence. There is a zombie dog getting kicked in the face. The universe is cyclical.
Industry Buzz: I’m told it got a 14 percent freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Kenneth Lowe is a media relations coordinator for state government in Illinois. His work has appeared in Colombia Reports, Illinois Issues magazine, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The identity of the time traveler remains unknown, for now.