How the Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City Trailer Reimagines the Original Games

Lily Gao, Avan Jogia, Hannah John-Kamen, Robbie Amell, Kaya Scodelario, and Tom Hopper bring Resident Evil's most iconic characters to life in Welcome to Raccoon City.

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Photo: Sony Pictures

Say what you will about the eventual quality of the movie, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is at least aiming for a more accurate adaptation of the original PlayStation games. Indeed, the veil of mystery surrounding the new Resident Evil movie reboot that’s out next month has been lifted, just a bit, with the arrival of the first trailer, which gives us a look at a few familiar faces and story beats survival horror gamers will undoubtedly recognize.

One thing’s for sure as we watch Chris Redfield (Robbie Amell), Jill Valentine (Hannah John-Kamen), Claire Redfield (Kaya Scodelario), Leon S. Kennedy (Avan Jogia), and Albert Wesker (Tom Hopper) shooting their way through the zombie hordes plaguing their idyllic midwestern city: director Johannes Roberts has left the Paul W.S. Anderson and Milla Jovovich era behind. Far from the CGI-heavy, action extravaganzas (with emphasis on EXTRA) of the Anderson era, Welcome to Raccoon City is teasing something a bit more horror-focused, undoubtedly all leading to an explosive third act as is the tradition with the games as well.

Along the way, we get more accurate big-screen versions of the series’ main characters, with STARS agents, RPD officers, and one very determined muckraker (looking at you, Claire) running around the trailer, and they’re complemented perfectly by the costume design. The outfits worn by Amell’s Chris, Scodelario’s Claire, and Jogia’s Leon S. Kennedy look especially faithful to the original games.

But the biggest attention-grabber in the trailer is undoubtedly the claustrophobic scenes inside the mansion, the setting of the 1996 PlayStation classic. While Anderson’s first Resident Evil movie alluded to a haunted house in the outskirts of a soon to be doomed city, it wasn’t interested in recreating the feeling of slowly making your way through an old, creaky labyrinth full of hungry zombies. Instead, it quickly moved the action to Umbrella’s top-secret underground lab, with Alice (Jovovich) tumbling down the rabbit hole along with a special ops task force that died almost immediately upon entering the Red Queen’s domain.

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In Welcome to Raccoon City, Roberts calls back to the haunted house-inspired scenes of 1996, as we watch Chris and Jill explore the mansion, opening doors to rooms full of horrors. At one point, we even watch the STARS team encounter likely the first zombie in the movie much in the same way the characters did in the video game. The flesh-eating ghoul slowly turns his head towards Chris and Jill as they enter one of the mansion’s dark rooms. “What the –” is all Chris can say before the bullets start flying in the rest of the trailer.

Of course, the inclusion of Claire and Leon means that this reboot isn’t just influenced by the first game but also its sequel, which sees the duo traverse a zombie-infested RPD police station. In the trailer, we watch as Leon takes care of zombies reaching out to him from a jail cell, with the undead eventually breaking through the station’s gates and crashing through windows. It’ll be interesting to see how the mansion and police station play out in parallel to each other. In the games, Claire and Leon arrive at the police station after the events in the mansion lead to a zombie outbreak in the city.

There is one big Resident Evil 2 character missing from the trailer, though: cunning super spy Ada Wong, who is played by Lily Gao in the reboot. It remains to be seen just how big a role she’ll play in the movie, or if her appearance is meant to set up future international adventures for Leon and Claire.

In the meantime, we’re also getting the infamous zombie dogs, a first look at the reboot’s version of a Licker, and confirmation that we’ll get to see William Birkin’s disgusting transformation into the eye-ball-ridden monstrosity from Resident Evil 2. All of which is to say that fans of the first two PlayStation games should at least catch some fun easter eggs in this movie. This certainly looks more faithful to the games than even horror legend George A. Romero could have envisioned.

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City opens in theaters on Nov. 24.