Resident Evil’s horror isn’t entirely derived from the rotting flesh of its sleep-walking antagonists. Indeed, Capcom’s mansion of malevolence represents a darker side of the human condition – the desire to obtain power regardless of the moral and ethical cost. And it’s a face – that face – that will forever introduce the uninitiated to Umbrella’s world of suffering and deceit.
But not only did ‘that’ face effectively begin a journey locked doors and demon hunting, it symbolized the potential consequences of man’s compulsion to manipulate and divert nature’s course – with Kenneth Sullivan’s, cold, teeth-marked corpse representative of the ripple effects of one corporation’s actions. This was the true horror underlying Capcom’s vision of evil.
It’s this vision, too, that promoted deprivation and scarcity in the name of tension, terror, and ultimately, enjoyment. And it was for this very reason that Jill Valentine, at the hands of millions of players, would almost always retreat to the comforts of Barry’s colt. We didn’t want to want to waste ammo now, did we?
Resident Evil inverted a paradigm. This wasn’t a zombie invasion scenario. This was the walking alive intruding upon the walled-off world of the walking dead. Here, you – Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield – were the aggressors. To re-name Resident Evil as ‘When Humans Attack’ wouldn’t be a gross misrepresentation of Capcom’s once-seminal tank-control franchise.
Still, Resident Evil’s iconic moments are literally impossibly to omit from the recesses of my mind. Even till this day, it remains a benchmark of the genre. And even if the franchise that we once loved has mutated beyond almost all recognition, it’s that face that we’ll continue to remember as the origins of contemporary horror.
Please, share your thoughts below.