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New Netflix Resident Evil Images Provide Long-Suffering Fans A Reason For Hope

"Resident Evil" is a creature with two faces. The video game series, centered on various characters battling against scientifically-engineered zombies and other select abominations, helped define the interactive horror genre when it launched in the mid-1990s. Decades later, it's still going strong thanks to titles like 2021's "Resident Evil Village." The live-action "Resident Evil" film saga, however, is another beast entirely.

Beginning with 2002's "Resident Evil" movie and continuing over five sequels, the original film franchise deviates significantly from the games in its plot, characters, and monsters. These movies are fun in their own schlocky way, but their creative liberties proved to be a disappointment for fans who were hoping for a more loyal adaptation. Thus, hope sparked anew when the film series rebooted in 2021 with "Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City," which tells a story that combines the narratives of the first two games. Unfortunately, the reaction to the reboot proves that it didn't exactly hit the bullseye, either.

Now, on the cusp of yet another reboot, this time as a live-action series courtesy of Netflix, it's understandable that fans' expectations might be low. The streaming service's iteration will follow Jade Wesker (Ella Balinska), the daughter of longtime series villain Albert Wesker (Lance Reddick), in two time periods: her childhood in New Raccoon City and her adult life in an apocalyptic London following a zombie outbreak. Based on its premise, it's clear that the show won't be specifically adapting any of the games and devoted fans are no doubt worried that it will be "Resident Evil" in name alone. However, Entertainment Weekly recently released several exclusive photos from the series that may be enough to get fans' hopes up once again.

A classic Resident Evil monster returns

It's clear that the "Resident Evil" Netflix series is going to once again deviate from the source material in some pretty significant ways, but fans who were worried that the series wouldn't feature any of the iconic monsters from the games can finally put their fears to rest. One particular preview photo shows off a menacing dog that has been infected by the T-virus baring its fangs.

Fans who have played the original 1996 "Resident Evil" game for the PlayStation (or its 2002 remake) are intimately familiar with the visage of this infected dog. They were one of the most terrifying enemies to contend with due to their aggressive nature and fast speed compared to the regular zombies. The dogs were also responsible for one of the most iconic jump-scare sequences in any medium, as one segment of the game sees the player walk down a quiet, empty hallway only for the dogs to noisily crash in through a nearby window and immediately attack.

The infected dogs are an absolute staple of "Resident Evil" iconography and their inclusion suggests that the Netflix series may feature other references to classic scares from the games. However, that's not the only element that the series is taking from the original works.

Scare set-ups that harken back to the games

Much of the horror of the first few "Resident Evil" games was born from their creative use of technical limitations. The player could not move and shoot at the same time due to the games' awkward tank controls, oftentimes resulting in them getting a little too close to the monsters for comfort. Set camera angles meant that the player would sometimes have to venture off-screen without knowing what nearby scares would become apparent from the next vantage point. When going through a door, the games would play an ominous loading sequence of the door slowly creaking open, leaving players just enough time to sit there and contemplate what terrifying thing they might find on the other side.

Adapting these techniques to a live-action series would be quite a challenge, but it seems that Netflix's "Resident Evil" may be incorporating some of those elements. One of the new photos sees Jade opening a door and discovering some horrific bloody sight that's mostly out-of-frame. It's a pretty remarkable recreation of a moment that would be right at home in the classic "Resident Evil" games and would certainly be a welcome stylistic choice if used elsewhere in the series.

The Umbrella Corporation is as shady as ever

The nefarious Umbrella Corporation has been an important part of the "Resident Evil" franchise since the first game, and with the show's focus on Wesker and his daughter, it seems the same will be true for the series. However, one of the exclusive photos teases just how close Umbrella will be to its game counterpart. 

The photo showcases Wesker and Evelyn Marcus (Paola Nuñez), who is the CEO of Umbrella and an original character created for the series, walking down a hallway together. It's pretty obvious that the pair are inside an Umbrella facility, but more importantly, the vibe of the location feels completely true to how it's portrayed in the games. Sterile lighting, futuristic architecture, monochromatic tones of white — the hallmarks are all there.

Featuring an Umbrella facility also brings to mind some of the man-made horrors that emerged out of its laboratories in the games, such as the hulking, rocket-launcher-wielding monster Nemesis who was sent to hunt down and kill protagonist Jill Valentine during the events of "Resident Evil 3." Hoping for an appearance from Nemesis or a similar creature may be too optimistic, but it would certainly be a great moment for fans.

Despite its clear deviations from the games that inspired it, this early look at Netflix's "Resident Evil" series has supplied enough details to raise the hopes of fans who are still awaiting a satisfying live-action adaptation. As for whether the series can actually meet those raised expectations, only time will tell.