The Resident Evil series of horror video games is a fascinating look at how not to do serial storytelling. It’s so over-convoluted a remake of the first game was made to include references to developments made in the sequels, tying all the characters, histories, various viruses, and conspiracies together. Then series creator Shinji Mikami, while revamping Resident Evil 4 for the second time during development, said “screw all this clumsy history” and restarted with a clean slate. The dozens of loose threads from previous games were abandoned for dozens more loose threads. Resident Evil 5, coming out in March, appears to answer a few questions RE4 didn’t bother with, like what Sherry Birkin and Jill Valentine are up to, but with this series it’s best not to expect anything substantial from the plot department anymore. If you want to look at exactly how ridiculous and bloated Resident Evil‘s plot got over the years take a look-see at Thomas Wilde’s outrageously detailed FAQ, which tackles tough questions like “Does Ada actually care about Leon?” (No.) and “Is Saddler retarded?” (Yes.)
Clearly, the fans care way more about the games’ plot than its writers. Absolute proof arrived late last year in the guise of Resident Evil: Degeneration, a direct-to-DVD CG-animated movie that takes place between Resident Evils 4 and 5. It stars Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield, the protagonists of Resident Evil 2, perhaps the most beloved entry in the series, long before it became the labyrinthine mess it is today. Early previews suggested Degeneration would be full of nods to RE2. Turns out it has exactly two, and one of them is a shot-for-shot reenactment of our heroes’ meeting. It was the only few seconds of the movie I guess I could say I enjoyed and that was only because I remember the intro sequence from a Playstation game released 11 years ago. If Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children proved to folks that Square should stick to video games, then Degeneration proves the guys at Capcom shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near pencils, pens, chalk or anything that could potentially aid them in writing a script. If they can’t keep their story straight in a long-running video game series, what makes them think they can pull it off in a hundred-minute movie?