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I really need you to hear this - the new Resident Evil Netflix show is amazing

Schrodinger's TV tie-in

Yesterday saw the release of Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness onto Netflix, a standalone four-part CGI animation based on Capcom's favourite survival-horror-action series of games. I binged it all in one sitting last night (it being collectively less than the length of the average Marvel film) and let me tell you: that was the best evening I have had in a while, and you should definitely watch it. It is simulataneously really well written and really badly written, and I'm still struggling to get my head around it.

Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness stars Resident Evil 2's protagonists Claire Redfield and Leon "S" Kennedy, although they barely speak to one another. It's set in 2006, between Resi 4 (everyone's favourite) and Resi 5 (nobody's favourite), so right away you know there are zero stakes here. Leon teams up with Jason, a hulking blonde gorilla, and Shen May, a badass who deserved better that what this show gave her, to investigate possible security attacks on America coming from China. But Jason and Shen May have a shady and clandestine past in the US military!? Also, assume every other scene might feature a zombie. (Claire has a B-plot where she independently investigates all this herself, but it is hilariously minimal.)

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The CGI is mixed, sometimes really good and sometimes weirdly terrible for some reason, but the plot is very complex. Video game complex, in fact. It involves a civil war in a country called Penamstan which descended into a virus outbreak covered up by the US Army, and secret super-soldier programmes, and conspiracy, and family, and fear. If I explained it to you it would take me about half an hour, but the show teases it out with flashbacks shown in a different order as present events unfold, and it's honestly done in such an intelligent way. It's genuinely impressive.

In contrast to that, though, let me give you a list of other things in Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness:

  • Zombies? In my White House!?
  • A touching, "I can't let you die like this!" moment that ends in the most hilarious way you can imagine, and I genuinely laughed so much I nearly did a wee
  • Like, a thousand zombie rats exploding out of one medium-sized corpse
  • "Do you know the origin of terror? It starts with fear."
  • Zombie hulk
  • Enough boiling acid to replace an ocean
  • A giant - literally cavernous - secret facility under Washington DC, and possibly under the actual White House (I was unclear on this point)
  • A zombie on life support (???)
  • A zombie that loses its lower legs and totters along on its knee stumps, leaving two trails of blood
  • At least two instances where Leon solves a problem with upper body strength, hanging from the ceiling in what appears to be an inescapable position, and you never see how he gets down

As such I think Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness is poised to be really successful, because it is clearly a fans-first experience (I have only a journeyman knowledge of Resi at this point, and loads of references flew over my head). But it's also wildly entertaining, potentially for non-fans and even if that's not usually in ways it meant to be. And at the same time, it's just weirdly kind of good sometimes?? It has great use of lighting, and diegetic noise. The actions scenes are hectic and frantic. Plus, a civil war in a fictional country that was massively worsened by clandestine and grim US Army intervention? That's wild! Good for Infinite Darkness! But also, a zombie on life support loooooooool. I can't get over it. Go watch this show right now. You won't regret it.

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