Resident Evil: The Final Chapter Review (Film, 2017)

You know that feeling when your hopes are dashed, no matter how low the hopes were? When a series that started out on a bad foot redeems itself in later entries and then falls right back into all the old problems for its "final" entry? And how that final entry definitely leaves the door open for a reboot that's technically part of the series even when titled The Final Chapter? That's where I am with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.

I will not defend the cinematic Resident Evil series as good. I won't even defend the game series as good (though the newest entry is quite entertaining in an absurdist, self-parodying kind of way). Aside from a few choice moments (not even entries) throughout the IP, Resident Evil survives on name alone. I fully admit I'm part of the problem with my consistent purchases, and I won't apologize for it, either. Some people have mediocre sports games; I have a longstanding mediocre as a whole horror game series with interesting lure and iconic imagery.

The new Resident Evil begins with a recap of the entire series. Remember all the characters who lived, died, and lived again? Remember the horrible premise of a corporation actually trying to end the world to somehow earn more money and cleanse the earth? Remember the total destruction of characters you loved from the game series rewritten into fractured pastiches of other characters who aren't as interesting? Remember Milla Jovovich being so damn compelling as an actress that you can almost go along with how ridiculous the whole series is? That's what the film starts with.

And even then they don't stay consistent within the film's own universe. Forget about fidelity to the games; this one doesn't even stay true to its own random choices. The Final Chapter replaces the iconic Tokyo crosswalk infection start with a twisted little gag involving a mountain climbing lift and a sick child. The film shows just enough to make you wonder why they didn't commit to showing the whole sequence or just reuse the far more effective versions from previous entries.

From there, we enter a world where Alice (Jovovich, bless her heart, doing strong work in another bad horror film) is now cooperating with The Red Queen (artificial intelligence from the evil Umbrella Corporation that has actively tried to kill her in the previous six films) to release a magical and previously unmentioned airborne antivirus that will destroy all infected cells. Alice has 48 hours before the surviving human enclaves fall. She must, once again, reenter the Umbrella Corporation facility to take on the same old human enemies, the same old traps (including the laser grid), and the same terrible looking CGI cerebus to maybe save the world possibly or not. I don't know. By the end, even this plot doesn't exist anymore.

Here's how I justify enjoying the Resident Evil series. I love a good bad horror film. The previous entries, starting with the third, are so simultaneously ridiculous and well-executed that I can sit back, relax, laugh, and jump out of my seat throughout the runtime.

None of that joy happened in The Final Chapter for me. The editing was so frenetic, so driven by inconsistent and poorly timed slam cuts into slightly different angles of the same action sequence that I couldn't tell what was happening within a scene. The new infected monsters made no sense and the actions of pretty much every established series character, save Alice, were inconsistent within the film, let alone within the context of the series. All I can say in its favor is the film had good sound, and the menacing score is the only effective and consistent device in the entire film.

I applaud the success of the Resident Evil series. I appreciate any attempt to maintain continuity in a series that runs this long. I just cannot get behind what The Final Chapter put up on the big screen. It's bad in all the wrong ways.

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