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Resident Evil is a 2002 science fiction horror film based on the same titled series of survival horror game developed by Capcom. Borrowing elements from the video games Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2, the film follows an amnesiac heroine Alice, and a band of Umbrella Corporation commandos, as they attempt to escape a secret underground facility that at one time was filled with people but is now overrun with zombies. The film was directed by Paul W. S. Anderson. The film was commercially successful, grossing $102,441,078 worldwide; however, it received many negative reviews from critics such as Roger Ebert.

Although Resident Evil received some negative reviews, financially it has been successful enough to have several sequels made. Resident Evil was followed by three sequels: Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), Resident Evil: Extinction (2007) and Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010). Anderson continued his involvement in the series, writing and producing the sequels, however, leaving directing to Alexander Witt and Russell Mulcahy. Resident Evil stars Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, and James Purefoy.


The film begins in The Hive, a top-secret genetic research facility owned by the Umbrella Corporation located deep beneath Raccoon City. A technician loads vials of blue and green liquid into a secured case, then tosses one blue vial onto the floor inside a lab, exits and seals the room. The vial breaks and the facility's security system, the Red Queen, detects possible infection, and in response, seals the Hive and kills everyone inside.

Elsewhere, a woman known only as "Alice" (Milla Jovovich) (though she is not named onscreen) awakens in an empty mansion with amnesia. She finds a picture showing that she is married; other clues, like concealed automatic weapons, suggest she is not a simple housewife. After she steps outside the mansion door, a man yanks her back inside; the two are immediately seized by a group of commandos. The man, Matthew "Matt" Addison, identifies himself as a police officer, but the commandos handcuff him regardless. The team opens a mirror-door to an underground train station. While taking a route to the Hive underground train station, the team discovers an unconscious man, known as Spence (James Purefoy). Alice recognizes him as the man in the wedding photograph. He also suffers from amnesia. When the train arrives at the Hive, the commandos prepare to breach it.

The "One", as he is called, is the head of the commandos and explains that Alice, Spence, and the commandos, are employees of the Umbrella Corporation, and it was Umbrella that sent the team to investigate why the Red Queen killed all the Hive staff. The computer has characteristics of a person, such as a gender (female). She is responsible for releasing a nerve gas in the mansion which has caused Alice and Spence's amnesia. The crew find their way to Dining Hall B and up to the Queen's chamber. However, as the bulk of the team attempt to disable the Red Queen, four of them are trapped in the corridor leading to the Queen's Chamber and are torn apart by a laser. This leaves Alice, Spence, Kaplan, J.D., Rain (Michelle Rodriguez) and Matt.

Alice and Kaplan shut the Queen down, but in doing so open the doors of the facility, releasing the undead staff and experiments from the laboratories in which they were imprisoned. A battle between commandos and flesh-eating zombies commences. Rain becomes infected after receiving multiple bite wounds, and a battle ensues in which Matt and Alice are separated and J.D. is eaten alive by zombies. Kaplan, Rain, and Spence remain in the control room in front of Red Queen's chamber. In another facility of the Hive, Matt looks for information on his sister, while Alice tries to find more clues about who she is. During her search, she encounters several dogs which were experimented on. Frightened, she runs and locks herself in another room, which she discovers to be inhabited by an infected security guard. Surprising herself, Alice uses martial arts moves to defend herself and ends up snapping the zombie's neck, an act that jars her memories of her skills in fighting and remembering why she has all those weapons. She takes the zombie's gun (very cautiously, not yet knowing for sure that it is properly dead) when a dog bursts back into the room. Alice exits the room and locks the dog in, only to be cornered by a pack of them, which she easily dispatches with head shots. She takes out the remaining dog with use of martial arts. While Matt finds his sister's desk, his sister Lisa, who is a zombie, edges towards him. As she attacks, Alice comes just in time to knock her out. After this, they talk together and Alice discovers that Matt is not a police officer, and used the title as a cover in his goal to help take down the Umbrella Corporation. Matt, with the help of his sister, Lisa, unsuccessfully attempted to smuggle a sample of the T-Virus, the cause of the undead. Matt believes this to be the fault of Lisa's contact, who supposedly betrayed her. Throughout the film Alice has flashbacks, showing herself as Lisa's contact, but Alice is not fully aware of her role in the events.

Soon, the survivors are once more united at the Queen's chamber and are forced to switch her back on for aid in an exit. Kaplan overrides the Queen's circuit-breaker, causing the next time she is disabled to be permanent, and the Red Queen somewhat agrees to aid the team. As Alice and the others try to escape through the maintenance tunnels, they are ambushed by zombies. Here it is discovered that J.D. was not eaten, but had turned into a zombie. Surprised by this, Rain becomes severely injured and begins to weaken, while Kaplan is separated from the rest of the team and is assumed dead. On their way to the train, Alice remembers that an anti-virus exists that could cure infection. However, arriving at the lab, they realize that the vials containing the T-Virus and anti-virus are gone. Spence, gaining his memory, is then shown as the person who released the virus. He points a gun at the survivors, and threatens them, trapping the others in the laboratory and making for the train where the case containing the anti-virus is. Before he can inject himself, however, he is killed by a mutated creature called the Licker. The Queen offers to spare Alice and Matt's life if they kill Rain, who has been infected for the longest period of time. As the Licker attempts to bash through the lab window to get to them, Alice smashes the Queen's monitor, and there is suddenly a power-outage. The laboratory door opens to reveal Kaplan, who has permanently disabled the Red Queen.

The four survivors hurry to get to the other end of the railway before it shuts down in a quarantine attempt. However, the Licker is on the train; it scratches Matt and kills Kaplan. Alice does battle with the Licker while Matt kills Rain who has turned into a zombie. Matt opens the trap door the Licker is standing on. The Licker is dragged along the track and burned to death. Matt and Alice emerge as the only survivors, and escape at the last moment when the doors close. Matt begins to suffer a mutation from an injury inflicted by the Licker, and the two are seized by Umbrella scientists. The scientists send Matt into the "Nemesis Program". Alice attempts to fend off the scientists, but is ultimately subdued. As the struggle fades to black, the words of one of scientists are heard, "We're reopening the Hive. I want to know what really went on down there. Just do it." Later, Alice awakens at the Raccoon City Hospital, locked in an observation room. After escaping the room and wandering the hospital's empty halls, Alice exits the building to find Raccoon City abandoned with signs of chaos everywhere. Alice takes a shotgun from a nearby police car, anticipating the danger ahead, then the camera pans to show the destruction of the city, as the film ends.



In 1999, Sony and Capcom greenlit a Resident Evil film with George A. Romero signed on as the film's director and screenplay writer. Romero's association with Capcom, the Resident Evil video game series creators, had extended from 1998 when Romero directed an ad campaign for Biohazard 2 (Resident Evil 2) in Japan. Romero stated in an official appearance in Universal Studio's Talk City chatroom that he had his secretary play the entire game through and record the gameplay so he could study it as a resource. Romero's screenplay revolved around the plot of the Arklay incident and included characters from the Resident Evil video games. Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield were the lead characters, involved in a romantic relationship. Barry Burton, Rebecca Chambers, Ada Wong and Albert Wesker were to also appear. The ending to the film would have been similar to that of the Resident Evil video game. However, Romero's script was disapproved of and production was placed into development hell. Capcom producer Yoshiki Okamoto explained to the editors of Electronic Gaming Monthly that "Romero's script wasn't good, so Romero was fired". In February 2000, Romero revealed in an interview with DGA magazine that, "I don't think they were into the spirit of the video game and wanted to make it more of a war movie, something heavier than I thought it should be. So I think they just never liked my script." As Romero's script was a close, but not full, adaptation of the game, Capcom believed fans would feel that the movie had been altered too much from the game, and that newcomers would dislike the premise.

Hired by Sony, Paul W.S. Anderson wrote a screenplay, which was ultimately favored over Romero's. In late 2000, Anderson was announced as director and writer, and Resident Evil re-entered pre-production stages. Anderson stated the film would not include any tie-in's with the video game series as "under-performing movie tie-ins are too common and Resident Evil, of all games, deserved a good celluloid representation".


In early 2001, Michelle Rodriguez, James Purefoy and Milla Jovovich were the first of the cast to be signed on the project. David Boreanaz was intended to portray the male cop lead of Matt Addison; however, he turned down the role to continue work on the WB series Angel. Boreanaz suggested that he was in negotiations to have a smaller role in the film claiming "Resident Evil is still there, a possibility, So, yeah, I'll see what happens", however, he later declined the role. The role of Matt Addison was then given to Eric Mabius who was later cast in March 2001, along with Heike Makatsch, who was cast as Matt Addison's sister Lisa Addison, an employee working for Umbrella's Hive facility.

Production and story development

In early March 2001, it was announced that half of the film would be shot in Adlershof Studios in Berlinmarker and its surroundings. On 5 March 2001 shooting began principal photography at numerous locations including the then unfinished station U-Bahnhof Bundestagmarker of the Berlin U-Bahn, Landsberger Allee, Kaserne Krampnitz and the Schloss Linstedt. Locations included The Spencer Mansion and The Hive. The film's ending in Raccoon City was shot in Torontomarker, Canadamarker. Filming concluded and post-production on the film began on 19 May 2001.

The film's score and soundtrack were composed by Clint Mansell, Marco Beltrami and Marilyn Manson during mid 2001. Manson described the score and soundtrack as being more "electronic" than any of his other previous work.

The film was originally subtitled as "Resident Evil: Ground Zero" when the movie was considered a prequel to the games, however the subtitle was removed in due to the 9/11 attacks. The film's first plot as of 16 March 2001 revealed that Jovovich's character Alice and Rodriguez's character Rain were the leaders of a commando team sent in to prevent a viral outbreak from spreading to the rest of the world, however those details were later changed.

Anderson initially toyed with the idea of the film being an allegory to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, but the idea was not followed through. Despite that, the movie contains various references to the work. The obvious being the main character's name, another is the use of a white rabbit for testing the T-Virus. The wall that opens to the train station appears as a mirror (Through the Looking-Glass), the Red Queen and her behavior, wanting to behead/kill people, are references to the book; the Red Queen's first kill is actually a beheading. In addition to relating to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the Red Queen's character was added into the film's story as a homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey an allusion to HAL 9000.

During production, professional dancers were hired to star as zombies as they had better control of their body movements. While computer effects were used on some zombies, much of the undead appearances were accomplished through make-up while their movements were a more laissez-faire approach, as Anderson told the actors to move however they thought a zombie would, given their conditions. Whilst filming, there was a shortage of manpower where the available dancers were not enough to represent the required numbers of undead, however some of Capcom's executives and several of the film producers including Jeremy Bolt agreed to make appearances. The film's stunt coordinator also made an appearance as the dog trainer while Bolt's girlfriend and sister both appeared as zombies.

Marketing and release

In March 2001, the official website was set up, which revealed the films original 26 October 2001 release and a redirect to the film's distributor Constantin Films. The website was fully opened in July 2001, and composed of images, plot info, character biographies and downloads. The film was planned to have a R-rated classification, however was overruled by Anderson, claiming he wanted a PG-13 rating as it would best suit a younger audience. In January 2002, the film was officially announced to contain a R rating.

In May 2001, it was announced that Sony Pictures Entertainment would distribute the film in North America. It was suggested by Capcom executives, that the film wouldn't be released in 2001, but rather in 2002 which was later confirmed by Sony in August 2001. The film was set for release on 5 April 2002 before being pushed forward to a 15 March release.

In December 2001, Sony gave fans a chance to design the film's poster with a prize of an undisclosed amount of cash, a free screening of the film, and with the final design being the film's poster. On 16 February 2002, Nick Des Barres, a 23-year-old aspiring actor and ex-video game magazine designer, was announced as the winner of the competition. The film's trailer and clips were released in late January and early February 2002.

Critical reaction and box office

The film opened in 2,528 theaters and was commercially successful, grossing $17,707,106 on its opening weekend (15 March-17 2002). The film gained $40,119,709 domestically and $102,441,078 worldwide. Resident Evil received many negative reactions from the critics and received a 34% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, counting 37 "fresh" reviews out of a total 110reviews. Robert K. Elder from the Chicago Tribune stated that the film "updates the zombie genre with an anti-corporate message while still scaring its audience and providing heart-pounding action", however, Owen Gleiberman from Entertainment Weekly noted that the film is as "impersonal in its relentlessness as the videogame series that inspired it."

Both Resident Evil and the sequel appear on Roger Ebert's most hated films list, published in 2005. In the review of Resident Evil, Ebert describes the film as a zombie movie set in the 21st century where "large metallic objects make crashing noises just by being looked at." He also explains that the film's "characters have no small talk. Their dialogue consists of commands, explanations, [and] exclamations."

After commercial success at the box office, a sequel, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, was released in 2004. In 2007, the third film Resident Evil: Extinction was released. Anderson did not direct the films due to commitments to Alien vs. Predator and Death Race but instead functioned as the scriptwriter and producer on both. The sequels were directed by Alexander Witt and Russell Mulcahy respectively. Anderson did, however, return to direct the 4th film in the franchise.

Relationship to the games

Various elements are borrowed from numerous video games including Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, where Alice's character awakes in Raccoon City Hospital with a viral outbreak occurring in the city. There are several references to characters and organizations such as the Umbrella Corporation, the Nemesis program, the underground train bearing the moniker "Alexi-5000" a reference to Resident Evil Code: Veronica's villain Alexia Ashford (the train is from Resident Evil 2, but in the game it reads "Galaxie-5000" instead of "Alexi-5000") and a police cruiser, from which Alice takes out a shotgun, has a "S.T.A.R.S." logo on the hood. Jason Isaacs appears in the film as an uncredited masked surgeon (which is a reference to William Birkin). The character of Dr. Isaacs (played by Iain Glen) in the film's sequels is dedicated to or based on him.

Other references to the first game include Alice examining the mansion by going outside; crows are visible for a very short moment. These crows were all digitized. In the video game series, crows are minor enemies that the player encounters throughout each game. Alice finds a picture of her wedding day with Spence, which is the same style as the photos in the first version of the Resident Evil game: in black and white with the foreground image (in this case, Alice and Spencer) noticeably spliced onto the background (the room behind them). On the newspaper at the end of the movie, the words "Horror in Raccoon City! More Victims Dead!" are shown in the upper right corner. This is a reference to the same newspaper in the censored opening of the original Resident Evil game and the prologue chapter for the Resident Evil: The Umbrella Conspiracy novel. Near the beginning of the film, Alice examines a statue after the wind blows its cover off. This statue is similar in design to one in the mansion of the first game, and which contains the map of the ground floor.

When going back to the Red Queen's chamber, Kaplan points out that the four bodies of the group's dead crew from the Glass Hallway Trap sequence are gone. This is a reference to a noticeable trait in the games, where when a character leaves the room where they've killed zombies and then comes back, the bodies that were once there have disappeared. The film also borrows a plot element from Resident Evil 2 in which Leon and Claire have to escape the underground labs by taking the train and have a showdown with a large creature in the back of the car. When the survivors make their escape from the Hive with a countdown as they fight the final boss, this is a reference to every Resident Evil game (except Resident Evil 5) which ends with a five minute countdown during which the boss must be defeated.

A faux newspaper created by Screen Gems for Apocalypse, The Raccoon City Times, indicates hours after the initial outbreak, creatures began appearing in the Arklay Mountains feasting on victims. This is similar to the opening of the first video game.

Anderson has stated that the film's camera angles and several shots allude to the video game's camera angles, such as the fight between Alice and the security guard. These include a scene near the beginning where there is a close up of Alice's eye. This is a direct reference to the title screen of the first game. In another scene, Alice awakes and hears a creepy sound which is also a reference to the plot of the first game.

Numerous elements from the film have been referenced in several of the Resident Evil video games after the film's original release. This includes the laser corridor sequence which appeared in both Resident Evil 4 (where Leon S. Kennedy has to evade a security trap) and Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles (where Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine have to evade a trap in Umbrella's Russian facility). The Hive was used as a scenario in Resident Evil: Outbreak. Unlike in the film, the facility is connected to Raccoon City Hospital directly. The film's font is used for the North American version of Resident Evil: Outbreak. The character of Red Queen made an appearance in Umbrella Chronicles as a computer database system.

The main 'boss' in the movie, (the T-virus injected human tissue) is a "Licker" from the game Resident Evil 2.

Home video

Resident Evil was released on DVD on July 30, 2002 in the United States, April 14, 2003 in the United Kingdom and October 2002 in Australia. It was a special edition release, with a number of documentaries including five featurettes, one of which explained the making of Resident Evil, the film's score composition, costume design, set design, zombie make up tests, and the music video for a remixed version of "My Plague" by Slipknot.

A Deluxe Edition of Resident Evil was released on September 7, 2004, which included new special features such as an Alternate ending with director Paul Anderson's video introduction, a clip compilation for Apocalypse, From Game to Screen featurette, a Storyboarding Resident Evil featurette, and 6 other exclusive featurettes: The Creature, The Elevator, The Train, The Laser, Zombie Dogs and Zombies.

Screen Gems released Resident Evil Resurrected Edition, a 2-Disc package containing Resident Evil and Resident Evil: Apocalypse, on September 4, 2007.

On January 1, 2008 A Blu-ray edition of the Resident Evil trilogy was released.


  1. Resident Evil by Roger Ebert March 15, 2002
  2. Raccoon City Times - last accessed - 2007-10-18

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