'Resident Evil' Source: Netflix

Review: 'Resident Evil' Bingeable, but Not Compelling

JC Alvarez READ TIME: 3 MIN.

After two years of living in a global pandemic, which brought with it a vaccination efforts to keep the virus at bay, we should all count our blessings that nothing even as remotely horrifying as "Resident Evil" has occurred in real life! The new original series, which premiered eight episodes on Netflix on July 14, is based on the fan-favorite zombie horror epic that has been a part of the genre lexicon for 25 years and continues to fascinate. The new series following another epic heroine who finds herself among the most wanted of the dying human race: This is the first original series built around the antagonist Albert Wesker, who has been a mainstay of the mythology.

The series introduces Jade (Ella Balinska) who has isolated herself and is researching the hordes of zombies referred to as "zeroes," infected cannibalistic humans that have taken over the world. The T-virus the "zeroes" are infected with is the result of a bioweapon that was under development by Jade's father, Albert Wesker (Lance Reddick), who moved himself and his two teenage daughters (including Jade's sister Billie) to the Umbrella Corporation's planned community named New Raccoon City. The series shifts between two timelines: Jade's present in 2036, and her past in 2022.

Jade (Tamara Smart plays her as a teenager) and her sister Billie (Siena Agudong) don't have a very easy go at "fitting in" to the isolated and walled-in South African community of New Raccoon City, and their rebellious nature immediately leads them into trouble. While visiting her father at the lab, Billie learns that defenseless animals are being used in Umbrella's research, and she convinces Jade to help her record the evidence and reveal the organization's practices to the world. They break into the lad after hours, and make a nefarious discovery before a rabid dog is released and attacks them.

The dog takes a bite out of Billie, and their father is forced to cover up their incursion, lest it threaten all of his research. Exactly what Albert is up to, and what he is creating for Umbrella, begins to come to light. An incident at another remote location has added pressure on him, and with his daughters having infiltrated his lab it's only a matter of time before the real threat comes home. "Resident Evil" The Series claims to not be connected to any of the previous films or television series (running tangentially to the earlier entries in the franchise), even though it closely relates the origins of the T-virus that lead to the zombie apocalypse.

Unfortunately, it's not as original a premise, nor does it have any of the interesting character developments of other media in the same genre. "The Walking Dead," based on the uber-popular graphic novels that lead to the epic series, isn't dependent on the exposition of the zombies to tell its tale; they are the threat that helps to form a human bond among the group(s) of survivors the series follows. "Resident Evil," on the other hand, dives into the science and doesn't defend the actions or make any of its root characters all that "good" – these are scientists in over their heads, and they develop a virus that has consequences.

It all leads down a dark path with few moments of redemption; the audience doesn't have any inclination to care about the core individuals – they've basically reaped what they've sown, and why should anyone care? "Resident Evil" on the big screen introduced a battle between good and evil, with survival being a by-product of the adventure. The production value of the series is impressive, but it's as flat as the characters that inhabit the realm, and the viewer shouldn't be sitting here rooting for the zombies or the monster of the week to claim its latest victim.

"Resident Evil" is streaming now on Netflix.

by JC Alvarez

Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".

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