Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Plot: A T-Virus outbreak in San Francisco leads to Alcatraz Island, where a new evil has taken residence.
Review: Not counting the live action movies (or the very entertaining Japanese stage play, Biohazard the Stage) the Resident Evil animated films have been around almost as long as the Capcom created video games that inspired them. As a matter of fact, there are enough of them to warrant their own Ranked list (which we’ll save for another time). Starting all the way back in 2007 with the short, Biohazard 4D-Executer, the first full length feature film was Degeneration (2008) and since then these movies, which tend to work as expansions of the games’ plotlines, have varied in quality. Still, fans keep returning and being one of them I was hopeful that Death Island, the fourth film and fifth installment (there was a miniseries Infinite Darkness in 2021), would be one of the better ones.
Switching back and forth between events set in 1998 and 2015 (this places the film after the events of videogame Resident Evil 6 and the third animated film Resident Evil: Vendetta, but before Resident Evil 7). The story follows a unit deployed to evacuate high-ranking Umbrella executives from the undead pandemic released in Racoon City. The team ultimately become infected leaving only two members alive as they struggle to carry out the kill order on their own.
We’re then brought to 2015 where Leon is on the hunt to rescue a kidnapped scientist while Chris Redfield and his sister Claire, Rebecca Chambers and, making her first appearance in these animated movies, Jill Valentine, are all working together to figure out the source of a mysterious illness that turns people into zombies without them being bitten. All answers lead to Alcatraz Island where a mysterious new enemy is plotting to do (what else) but infect the entire world!
Being animated, I expected this movie to look better than its predecessors, but I wasn’t prepared for HOW much better it would! I found myself staring at things like Claire Redfield’s leather jacket, or Jill Valentine’s hair and features that looked so real at points I forgot it was animated. The visual effects team involved definitely stepped up their game here, even if the “uncanny valley” nature won through when it came to their eyes, a common issue with most animation shot in this particular style.
My favorite RE animated movie was (and still is) the above-mentioned Vendetta, which had arguably the best action sequences of the entire franchise, but Death Island is no slouch in this department either with some truly adrenaline-spiking moments. Another smart decision made here was the addition of Jill Valentine. For those who may not know, Jill was previously under the control of the series’ main big bad, Albert Wesker, and she gets a solid character arc here as she struggles to find her place again among her teammates and friends.
Unfortunately, Death Island, as fun as it can be, suffers from the same issue that keeps these movies (live action included) from being great instead of just good. That is the writing is too wooden and doesn’t do much to evoke any real emotion from both the characters and the audience watching. Again, Vendetta comes to mind as the interactions between Leon and Chris in that movie were much more fleshed out making it feel like more than just an extension of a video game. The villain here was also lacklustre and the motivation behind his actions was, in a word, ridiculous.
Death Island, while a step in the right direction animation-wise, drops the ball by continuing to lean too heavily on the video game-like action sequences (which, let’s face it, will only truly appeal to players) instead of pushing beyond to deliver a truly epic tale of horror. I’m still a fan and I’ll keep watching as long as they keep putting these out there, but I really hope one day to see the Resident Evil franchise give me a movie that’s not just pretty on the outside but delivers truly engaging characters and stories, just like the awesome games that inspire them.
Sommer’s Score: 6 out of 10
And you check out more content with evil in residence (if a pun is nice, do it twice and all that) below:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge-Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes. Double Tap Baby! Read More