It’s been 15 years and five movies since the very first Resident Evil, and to hear director Paul W.S. Anderson (who’s been with the franchise since the very first film) tell it, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, will be the official end to the video game series. “It’s been an incredible ride,” Anderson said at today’s New York Comic-Con panel, “we wouldn’t be here without the fans.” It’s certainly difficult to say goodbye to Alice and the entire, stretching mythology of the series, but if the latest trailer is any indication, the final send-off has all of the elements to potentially be the best installment since the first. In fact, Anderson goes one further – “this going to be the best movie in the franchise,” he grinned to the afternoon Comic-Con crowd.
Picking up directly after the events of Resident Evil: Retribution, Alice (Milla Jovovich) will return to Raccoon City, where the Umbrella Corporation is gathering strength, and, of course, planning to wipe out the remainder of civilization. Joining forces with the returning Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and a plethora of new faces (including Orange is the New Black’s Ruby Rose), Alice will fight one last time to save the world from extinction.
Backstage at Resident Evil’s massive Comic-Con event, I had the chance to speak with Anderson about how much the film will wrap up the series, the new monsters he’ll be bringing out for the last chapter, how he’s handling 3D this time around, and just how scary The Final Chapter is going to be.
COLLIDER: How’s it going?
PAUL W.S. ANDERSON: It’s great.
I don’t want to badger you about why the franchise is ending – but I do want to ask, how full circle are you taking this? You guys are going back to Raccoon City, but how kind of whole is this ending going to be? How much are you kind of tying into the first film?
ANDERSON: I mean, the most important thing is I mean obviously it’s a return, physically it’s a return to Raccoon City and it’s a journey back to where the franchise began, back to the hive. I think more importantly it’s a journey of discovery for Milla’s character, Alice. Because when we introduced her in the very first movies, you had a protagonist who had memory loss and that memory has never come back. So you really have a woman who doesn’t really know who she is at the center of the franchise and I think that’s a question mark that has always been hanging over the franchise. This movie narrative wise is not just a physical return to the beginning, when the movie began, it’s kind of a journey for her to discover the truth about herself. The truth about the umbrella corporation and what its real agenda is and the truth about the Red Queen as well. So a lot of those questions that have been hanging over the franchise get answered in this movie. So it’s not just a journey back to the beginning I mean it is, you kind of fill in the blanks that were left with the first movie. So a lot of these things I had in my mind when I read the first movie and you know only in my wildest dreams would I imagine that we would be here like six movies later. But I always thought you know if I did get to kind of bring the franchise if there was a franchise to a conclusion this is the way I would do it. So I’m getting to use a lot of ideas that I had fifteen years ago to kind of tie everything up.
So speaking of new ideas, I’ve heard that there are some touches of the video game, specifically like the bloodshot, that you’re bringing in this movie is that true?
ANDERSON: Yeah, I mean it’s kind of like in a way it’s a return to the greatest hit of the franchise because we bring back some characters that I’ve loved from earlier installments like Ali’s character Claire Redfield and we bring back some of the creepsters from the first movies like the dogs. The dog scene is amazing, it’s the best we’ve ever done, the dogs. I feel like the dogs have always been a great concept and we’ve never — ya know because of the difficulty of working with real dogs, we’ve never quite done justice to them but this time the dog scene is amazing, I mean it’s off the hook scary and good and kinetic. So there’s returning favorites but then there’s also new creatures. The bloodshot from the last video game, which I think is the best monster from the last video game, he’s really ugly. Then there’s the Popokarimu, which that’s the big flying creature from the end of the last film that we use in this film properly, you know he was just teased in the last movies. I just called him a dragon because Popokarimu was too like…
It’s too many syllables.
So I think one of the things especially as the franchise has gone on and it’s gotten even more visually inventive. Do you have any like 3D tricks up your sleeve this movie?
ANDERSON: Well this movie is a dramatic change of pace from the last movie. The last movie was very stylized. I mean, deliberately, so you know everything was very symmetrical, there was a lot of slow motion, everything was very bright it had kind of sci-fi gleam to the whole thing. This movie I wanted as a reaction against that to do something completely different to kind of keep it fresh for the audience. This film is primarily a location picture very few sets big locations gritty real locations and I think the movie has that intense sort of gritty realism to it. There’s no slow motion at all so the action scenes are kind of bone-crunchingly fast and intense. So visually it’s very, very, different and while it is 3D this is the first time that I have done a 3D conversion. All the movies I’ve done so far, you know I’m a very early adopter, I love technology. We literally took the cameras off the Avatar set, so Resident Evil: Afterlife was the first native 3D movie to be released after Avatar and I’ve always shot native because I’ve never felt the technology for conversion was good enough that I wanted to do a conversion. I feel that finally it’s gotten to that point that I could. But what I did was I used my 3D crew to shoot it. So while they were shooting 2D it was being framed with the knowledge of what makes a good 3D shot so it should be spectacular 3D with the advantage that, I’m sure you’ve been on 3D sets where they use 3D cameras they’re huge cause it’s two cameras and an onboard computer and you have to put it on a crane most of the time this one I wanted to kind of like…and it’s very restrictive to work like that.
Absolutely, especially with action.
ANDERSON: I wanted to kind of get the camera places I never could’ve gotten it with a 3D camera. You know it’s up there, they’re down there, they’re in the face. They’re really in the action this time around to make it much more immersive for the audience in a way that I could never have done with the 3D cameras. It’s gonna be an amazing 3D experience because it’s the best of 2D in terms of shooting but with great 3D even the company that’s doing the conversion it’s this company called Legend 3D all these guys do is convert movies from 2D to 3D they’ve been doing it for years and they’re blown away by how good it looks. They’re like, “Oh my god it looks amazing.” Because they’re not used to, they’re used to people who just shoot a 2D movie and they’re given it and it makes a shitty 3D movie because it’s not shot with 3D in mind. This is the first time that actually a 3D crew has shot a 2D movie and then it has been converted and they see how good it is because it’s been framed appropriately with the right foreground, the right mid-ground, the background so that you really see the depth it’s gonna be fantastic.
That’s super exciting. So how does that connect to, like what level of scares are we talking are we topping the previous stuff or are you dialing it back?
ANDERSON: I directed a movie called Event Horizon, which I always say is the scariest movie I’ve ever done and this movie is scarier than that. It’s deliberately a return to I think the first Resident Evil movie was probably the most intense and the scariest of the franchise because it was all in the hive so it had a kind of claustrophobic intensity to it, it very much like a haunted house movie like inspired by The Shining or The Haunting you know it had that kind of feel that you were trapped in this space with bad things that were gonna happen to you. This movie the last fifty percent of it is all in that same environment with that same intensity and that same scariness but even the stuff earlier in Washington D.C. there are some great… I mean there are some of the best scares that I’ve ever directed. It’s really fun to watch with an audience cause like people they’re scared. You know, there are moments when I mean not from Event Horizon have I made a movie where people look away and scream as much as they do you know where the intensity of the horror was so great that people got like that. The last movie I did where that happened was Event [Horizon] where people just couldn’t bear to watch.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter hits theaters January 27, 2017.