Welcome to Raccoon City is very different in style from the Resident Evil movies featuring Milla Jovovich. While also live-action, it embraces a very different feel and quality, though is also exceptionally fun. If you’re in it for something to shut your brain off, roll with it, and embrace the chaos, you will have an enjoyable time with this one.

Raccoon City starts in the 1980s when Umbrella moved out and relocated. Only a few staff and those too poor to move now inhabit the wasteland left behind. What evil has Umbrella left lurking? What truth is there to uncover in Spencer Mansion?

The cinematography has a unique style. While filmed with real actors, the initial scenes taking place at Raccoon City Orphanage use a surreal filter that gives everything a plastic-like veneer. Initially, it left me feeling rather confused, but after chewing on the viewing a bit, I think it gave it a distinctive edge. It defined Claire’s childhood in a way that made it feel that much more peculiar and drove its significance home for viewers.

Female empowerment was front and center, with Jill and Claire being the most capable of the characters, often saving the men. Ada even makes an appearance in the after-credits scene, setting up the sequel. Their fight scenes are the most sophisticated, as well.

For fans of the franchise, there are a lot of references to catch, which made it even more compelling to watch. The plot and style follow the flow of the video games keeping it true for longtime fans. It would be a dangerous drinking game to take a shot every time you predicted what would happen next based on the games. We here at the Grimoire of Horror certainly do not recommend that as one would positively wind up in the hospital.

While many of the effects are clearly CGI, that feels very appropriate for such a video game-heavy film. It works with the aesthetics quite well. The effects typically blend in well and don’t clash with the actors. The director also knew where to use unsettling things appropriately to fit the RE style effectively. It feels very loyal.

The cast it a great job honoring the existing characters. As soon as they appeared on screen, immediately knew who they were representing. Both by lines and by swagger, each character was nailed. The true standouts are Neal McDonough as William Birkin nailing the perfect balance of creepy and dedicated, Kaya Scodelario as Claire Redford who is bad*ss and over everyone not believing her intelligence, and Avan Jogia as Leon Kennedy, the great guy who is naïve and just needs some training.

Fans who have only watched the Resident Evil movies will have to make space to embrace more of the things that feel random. Meanwhile, fans of the games will get more immediate pleasure from this rendition. Yet both will find appreciation from Welcome to Raccoon City. Give it a watch.

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