July 12, 2022

Netflix Restores Life to “Resident Evil” (Review)

I’ve stated numerous times before that I don’t usually play video games. That’s why I’m definitely not qualified to comment on the accuracy when translating video games to films or television mediums, but I think that’s also a positive — it eliminates any frustration I might have with the lack of faithfulness in the source material, because I’m not anywhere close to familiar with said source material.

The same is true for Resident Evil, which Netflix has adapted for long-form television. This is the story about a pandemic that ravages the world and drastically reduces the sane and living population — and that makes it feel a little too real. The dystopian setting naturally lends itself to the horror genre, but it’s less traditional jump scare-focused horror and more along the lines of something you could genuinely see happening; perhaps not to this extreme, but it’s all become much more tangible after the events of the last two years. It’s more relatable, and therefore scarier.

The series’ release proximity with Sony’s Welcome to Raccoon City (which released last year) does give me a slight familiarity with the overall arc of the story, but for all intents and purposes Netflix’s Resident Evil is a hard reset, wiping away all previous lore that has been put to film. Instead of being set before or after the virus-induced apocalypse, the Netflix series splits its time both before and after the world-ending events, clueing us in on the true nature of what’s going on in a slow-burn fashion.

Our protagonist is Jade Wesker (Ella Balinska), who is struggling to survive in a world filled with cannibalistic mutant zombies, known as “zeroes” to the characters. She’s trying to make her way from England to France, but the belligerent Umbrella Corporation is on her tail, intent on capturing her. This is depicted in conjunction with a flashback storyline, taking place fourteen years earlier. The younger Jade (Tamara Smart) and her half-twin sister Billie (Siena Agudong), after moving to the Umbrella community New Raccoon City in South Africa, seek to unmask the corporation’s use of a dangerous bioweapon — the T-Virus.

Lance Reddick is perhaps the most recognizable name in the cast. He plays Albert Wesker, Jade and Billie’s father, who is recruited back to Umbrella in an executive position. Reddick strikes the perfect balance of being a caring father and a man with a dark secret, with his performance range as proof that he can play both sides astonishingly well.

There’s a lot to set up at the start, but all of that is confined to the pilot episode. There’s enough potential to invoke intrigue and an admirable level of diversity, but the season opener is filled with the classic beats we’ve no doubt tired of by now: a shady, sinister corporation, a post-apocalyptic world filled with monsters, and seemingly unbreakable family bonds. Slowly but surely, the rest of the season branches out, giving us a world in which Umbrella has gone from a government-funded pharmaceutical company to judge, jury and executioner, killing anyone who even remotely gets in their way.

The stakes come from our lack of knowledge about how each timeline plays out — though each provides clues for the outcome of the other. It’s a mystery above anything else, and that’s refreshing when it comes to a franchise long since dictated by convoluted, and occasionally scary, action. Showrunner Andrew Dabb interprets the Resident Evil franchise as one about hope and humanity. “[It was] never about the evil,” he said, “[it was] about the people brave enough to fight it.” His perspective is a valuable addition to a nearly thirty-year-old multimedia franchise, and Netflix’s Resident Evil series proves that there’s still life in it yet.

Resident Evil premieres July 14 on Netflix. More information can be found


  1. This is why no one trusts critics. This show was awful. There was no "protagonist" there was no one that was even likable. This was a disgrace to what made the franchise awesome.

  2. I watched all the episodes and thought it was decent. I don’t care if it matches the video games or other movies that have been made.

  3. Trash article from a non-fan of the franchise about a trash series.

  4. They could have gotten less ridiculed if they didn't name it resident evil

  5. Video game or book or comic book... If you dont follow the main plot do a spin off. The serie was a slap in the face for resident evil!! I dont under stand why they are unable to do those kind of film pay respect to the work other people put in the IP. The only reel good game to movie ive seen is sonic!!

  6. Unpopular opinion. I enjoyed the series for what it was (a zombie/monster tv show with some teen drama thrown in). I've enjoyed the Resident Evil games. Why can no one separate the two mediums? Do you just want the same regurgitated plot over and over forever?

    They shouldn't have marketed the tv series as being faithful to the games...maybe it's where I am, but I never saw that. I figured it was a series that used some lore/character names from the Resident Evil series, not a faithful adaptation of the games....kinda of like the stage plays don't quite fit with the game plots (heck some of the game plotlines don't fit together).

    As a fan of the games, the tv series was fine for what it was. It was a good, mindless binge watch, but I enjoyed it because I let it be what it was: a Resident Evil flavoured, post-apocalypse teen drama.

  7. If you really think that awful cast and writing could be excused just because it is loosely adapted from the source material then you have way more problems to determine what makes a series actually good.