Resident Evil 7 helped take film reboot's script 'back to the horror roots'

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Nov 26, 2018, 10:48 AM EST

The Paul W.S. Anderson series of Resident Evil movies spun an oddball auteurist take on the seminal horror game franchise, dividing critics while delighting enough fans that the Milla Jovovich-led films ran for six iterations. Ending with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, released in the U.S. in 2017, that franchise left a void ready for a reboot — and horror mega-producer James Wan was there ready to fill it.

Another six films are planned, but first they have to successfully launch. And, as new details have emerged, it seems that early drafts of the first reboot movie are going back to the franchise' horror basics. Speaking with DiscussingFilm, screenwriter of the upcoming Resident Evil and Mortal Kombat reboots Greg Russo explained his draft was primarily influenced by Resident Evil 7.

“I worked on the reboot for about a year and then producer James Wan came in,” Russo said. The screenwriter turned in his draft and left Wan and the studio to figure out the direction from there, though he was certain to impart a distinct vibe from the original films. “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,” the writer said, adding that “Resident Evil 7 was a bit of a touchstone for my draft.”

The first-person horror game closed down the world of Resident Evil, taking the player to a Texas Chain Saw Massacre-style cannibal family home. A restored focus on tension and exploration in tight quarters made the game a critical and popular hit — far different from the conspiracy plotting and run-and-gun action of the Anderson films. “Not to shame the original film franchise that was made," Russo said, but “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.”

That’s not to say that Wan’s finished product will be entirely creeping horror — especially since the game isn’t bereft of complex corporate machinations of its own — but at one point in the project’s life cycle, Resident Evil was focused primarily on horror rather than action. That should give solace to fans, regardless of how the Umbrella Corporation factors into things.