Welcome to Raccoon City Director Explains Why He Adapted Two Games

In direct contrast to previous Resident Evil filmsResident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City hews much closer to the video game source material. Johannes Roberts, who wrote and directed Welcome to Raccoon City, weaves in plot threads and characters from both Resident Evil and its 1998 sequel, Resident Evil 2. Roberts sought to recapture the blend of action and terror from the Resident Evil video game series and create something wholly original.

In an exclusive interview with CBR, Roberts shared the cinematic influences that inspired Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City. Roberts also discussed which elements from the Resident Evil games he was keen to bring to cinematic life and detailed why he wanted to combine the stories of two different Resident Evil games into one feature film.

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Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is a labor of love and faithful to the games. What was something unique that you wanted to bring to the films?

Johannes Roberts: That hadn't been done before? Lisa Trevor -- 100%.

I knew as soon as we got into this, I was like, "No one has ever used Lisa Trevor before," and she's creepy! She's creepier than the zombies and a weird character that comes out of nowhere in the game. I thought that there was something really interesting here and it was a way for me to enable the crossover between that larger-than-life action-horror that Resident Evil is, with the big monsters and explosions and this terrifying James Wan-style horror that I wanted to tap into to bring the movie into the now, to make it feel as scary as the games are. I had a lot of fun with her.

Whereas Claire and Chris Redfield are pretty tight when we see them together in the games, you've got them more at odds with each other when we first see them here. How was it digging into that?

I was having a lot of fun with that. It's the big challenge of doing a computer game adaptation. If you lean into the material as we did, it's great. I'm passionate about it and I really wanted to bring the game to life on screen but you can't just do that otherwise you might as well just play the game and the games are pretty fucking cinematic. The reboot of Resident Evil 2 is a masterpiece! What's important for the audience? Why would they want to come and see this instead of sitting at home and playing it on their consoles? It is to get under the skin of these characters and I really loved telling this small town, Stephen King-esque kind of story with these kids.

You have Wesker and Jill and Chris who are stuck in this dying town and want to get out: it's a little Deer Hunter-esque. And then you have Claire coming back into town and this ensemble, Assault on Precinct 13-style narrative of all these people coming together, almost like a western. It's a lot of fun to take these characters -- and I was juggling a lot of characters in a limited time -- and to give them all life and let them breathe. It was definitely the hardest thing that we had to do on this.

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To build off that, you're adapting the first two games in this and Resident Evil 2 alone is a pretty cinematic experience. What made you want to combine the two narratives for this?

I'm just greedy. [laughs]

I wanted the mansion and I was given the keys to the kingdom and it was like, "What do I want to do?" I want the mansion and then you wait to see if someone stops you and they don't and then you go, "I want the police station as well in my movie." [laughs] It was fun and I'm hugely influenced by John Carpenter and his sensibilities as a storyteller. Assault on Precinct 13 is a one-night scenario and I thought that was a great way to tell this story and combine all the iconic elements and go back to the police station and mansion. It felt right and didn't feel like it was overloading something but it was a tricky balance and personally, I feel very pleased with the way that it worked. Like I said, it was pure greed in that I wanted that and that. [laughs]

Written and directed by Johannes Roberts, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is in theaters on Nov. 24.

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