The upcoming Johannes Roberts-directed “Resident Evil” film now has a name: “Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City.”
Roberts revealed the title and details of the movie’s plot during a panel with IGN’s Lucy O’Brien at SXSW on Saturday. Speaking about the genesis of the title, Roberts — who has directed both of the “47 Meters Down” films — said that the setting of Raccoon City plays a big role in the film.
“The movie is very much an origin story for ‘Resident Evil,'” Roberts said. “It’s an ensemble piece, and Raccoon City plays a big part and is a character in the movie. It’s about this group of people all coming from different angles — some coming into town, some already having grown up in this town — meeting over this one fateful night.”
The film will follow the original “Resident Evil” characters of Claire and Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine and Leon S. Kennedy, and will play up the horror aspect of the video games, Roberts said. Roberts looked to John Carpenter films such as “The Fog” for inspiration, as well as the original video games.
“The big thing for me on this movie is tone. The thing that I loved with the games was they were just scary as hell, and that is very much the atmosphere,” Roberts said. “It’s raining constantly, it’s dark, it’s creepy… and then mixed with the sort of more fun side, especially with the first game, of what’s round the corner, that kind of style of storytelling.”
Although Roberts said he is a fan of the original “Resident Evil” film franchise, his movie “doesn’t have anything to do with that.”
“It’s a whole separate origin story that’s very much based in the roots of the game and the world of horror,” Roberts said. “It’s not like I was presented something where we’re remaking it. We’re not. I fell in love with Milla Jovovich in the first films, I love that side of the ‘Resident Evil’ world. But it was a real pleasure to be given the reigns to a new franchise, hopefully, that really is its own thing. I had never seen the terror and the atmosphere of the games — of what I felt when I was playing those games… I’d never felt that on-screen, and I felt that was something I wanted to tell.”
In particular, Roberts said the 2019 remake of the second “Resident Evil” video game pointed him in the right direction as far as its setting and tone.
“[That] was probably the entry point into the movie for me,” Roberts said. “That game came out and it just blew me away, and from that moment on I think we all knew where we were going with this movie because it was such a wonderful cinematic experience with the tone, the constant dark rain, that sort of aspect of the game. And I just took that and went, ‘That’s the world I want to work in.'”
“Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City” is scheduled to release via Sony Pictures on Sept. 3. The film stars Kaya Scodelario, Robbie Amell, Hannah John-Kamen, Avan Jogia, Tom Hopper, Lily Gao, Neal McDonough and Donal Logue. It is produced by Screen Gems, Constantin Film, The Fyzz Facility and The Tea Shop and Film Company.
Watch the full panel below.