Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (2021) – Everything We Know & Trailer Breakdown

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is a fresh start for the live-action film franchise. Here’s everything we now about the movie so far complete with a full trailer breakdown.

Zombie dogs are a staple of the Resident Evil games and movies.

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (2021) is a reboot of the long-running live action film series directed (mostly) by Paul W.S. Anderson and starring Milla Jovovich. Or maybe more accurately than calling it a reboot, this new Resident Evil movie is a new adaptation of the video games that inspired the previous films. Writer/director Johannes Roberts promises a tone similar to the early games for Welcome to Raccoon City, and everything we’ve seen so far promises a more direct adaptation of the survival horror games than the previous live-action films. Here’s everything we know so far.

Release

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is scheduled to be released in the United States and Canada on November 24, 2021 with many other countries following within a week or two. The film will release exclusively in theaters, and there is no word on when streaming options will be available.

Setting

Director Johannes Roberts has stated that he received blueprints for the Raccoon Police Department and the Spencer Mansion from Capcom for use in building sets.

According to interviews from the director, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City will take place on one “fateful night.” The trailer shows us the date of September 30, 1998, so we can expect the movie to play out in its entirety on that night. Comparing it to the original games, that would set the movie at the end of Resident Evil 2 and just before Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. Timelines will be changed to fit everything into the film, but it’s nice they chose to set it in 1998 just like the games.

As for locations, promotional images and the film’s trailer indicate that the movie takes place in multiple locations from the first few games including the Spencer Mansion, the forests of the Arklay Mountains, the streets of Raccoon City, and the Raccoon Police Department.

Story

Claire Redfield looks to be the main character driving the film’s narrative.

Understandably, major plot points are being kept under wraps. The official writeup on the Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City site talks about a pharmaceutical company known as the Umbrella Corporation that left Raccoon City after unleashing an “evil” that left the town a “wasteland.” That’s pretty much standard for many Resident Evil stories, but some possible plot threads can be gleaned from what information we have so far. Possible spoilers below, though it’s mostly speculation.

The trailer shows Claire Redfield returning to Raccoon City to show her brother Chris a video of a man warning Claire about Umbrella and asking her to help him expose them. From there, all that’s really clear is that we see Claire with police officer Leon S. Kennedy at the Raccoon Police Department, and we see Chris with members of the S.T.A.R.S. special forces unit at the Spencer Mansion. It can be assumed that Claire and Chris split up to investigate and warn people, and they got caught up in their own separate fights for survival.

George Romeo has strong influences on the early games, and he even directed a Japanese commercial for Resident Evil 2 (Biohazard 2 in Japan). Seen here is Adrienne Frantz playing Claire in Romero’s commercial.

Most of what we know has more to do with tone than actual plot points. Johannes Roberts has indicated that the first two games will feature heavily in the film, but he doesn’t say much beyond that. He also mentions being inspired by horror and thriller films from the 1970s including The Exorcist (1973) and Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), though again, that’s more about tone than story. Both of those films are tense and terrifying though, so it’s a good start. He’s also spoken about George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978), but that seems obvious considering all the zombies and the fact that the original games were inspired by Romero’s zombie films as well.

Trailer Breakdown

The trailer is loaded with references to multiple games in the Resident Evil series, so here is a breakdown of every direct reference and what they might mean for the film’s plot. Once again, possible spoilers below.

Hunk from the trailer (left) and Hunk from the Resident Evil 2 remake from 2019 (right).

The trailer starts with Claire Redfield arriving in Raccoon City only to find roadblocks and people in masks carrying guns. One of of the soldiers (with an Umbrella logo on their helmet) might look familiar to players. Could that be Hunk? Even if it is, this is probably more of an Easter Egg for fans rather than a hint about possible plot points. Hunk first appeared in the 1998 Resident Evil 2 game as a minor character in cutscenes, and as a playable character in a bonus mode for people who got an “A” rank in one of the games scenarios.

On the left is the sign from the movie, on the right is the sign from the original 1998 Resident Evil 2 game.

Next up is a nod to Claire’s opening cutscene in Resident Evil 2 (1998) where she rides into town on a motorcycle, passing by the “Welcome to Raccoon City” sign.

Ben Bertolucci from the trailer (left) and the Resident Evil 2 remake (right).

We then see Claire show a VHS tape to Chris. On the tape is Ben Bertolucci. In both the original RE2 and the remake, Bertolucci is an investigative reporter who is trying to unravel the Umbrella conspiracy and expose Raccoon City’s Chief of Police, Brian Irons, as a co-conspirator. The movie’s trailer gives the impression that Bertolucci’s investigation is what prompted Claire to head to the city. It’s very possible Bertolucci will be found in the police station since, in the games, he is found by Leon while locked in a cell.

Lisa Trevor from the trailer (left) and the 2002 GameCube Resident Evil (right).

The trailer then shows shots of various characters, and one stands out as providing a possible subplot in the film. Lisa Trevor is from the 2002 remake of the original 1996 Resident Evil game, and hers is a tragic story. Lisa was an early test subject of Umbrella’s, and her abuse lasted for decades. A clip later in the trailer makes direct references to Lisa being exposed to the Progenitor virus and the G-Virus, as well as stating that Lisa was scheduled to be “terminated” before escaping. It could be interesting if Lisa somehow led Chris and his team to discovering more about the Spencer Mansion and its hidden laboratories as a way to end her own suffering.

The truck driver gets infected in all iterations, including the new movie (left) and the RE2 remake (right).

We then see a transport truck crash and explode in front of the Raccoon Police Department. This is taken directly from the Resident Evil 2 games. In the games, the truck serves to separate Claire and Leon so there can be two scenarios for players, but in the movie it seems like it might just be there to trap Claire and Leon inside the police station.

The yellow on the pilot’s shirt in the trailer (left) is most likely an indicator that this is Brad Vickers (right, from RE3: Nemesis).

Next we see more action scenes. The first is with Chief Irons being attacked by a zombie dog (aka Cerberus) in a parking garage. Then we see a brief clip of what may be the fate of one of the S.T.A.R.S. members. Brad Vickers is the helicopter pilot that strands Chris’s team at the Spencer Mansion in the original game by flying away alone when they are attacked in the forest. It looks like a zombie attack in his helicopter might not give Brad the chance to abandon his teammates in the movie.

Brad’s possible death or infection in the helicopter could take place right before a later clip in the trailer. We see Jill Valentine warn everyone to get away right before a helicopter crashes into the mansion. That could be Brad’s helicopter. Also, director Johannes Roberts has stated that the helicopter crash in the trailer is a reference to the helicopter crash in Resident Evil 2.

The film looks just as creepy in the movie (left) as it does in the game (right).

In what is probably just another Easter Egg, we see Claire play a film of a girl watching a boy as he pulls the wings off of a dragonfly. Claire then pushes a film cannister aside with the words “Ashford Twins” written on it. This confirms that Claire is watching a film of Alexia and Alfred Ashford, twins born from a cloning experiment. They are the main antagonists in Resident Evil: Code Veronica which takes place far from Raccoon City, so its unlikely we’ll see any more of them in Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City. Still, it’s a great reference, and it could be planting seeds for a sequel.

The zombie in the trailer (on the left) is wearing what looks like a lab coat, so they probably worked in the mansion’s hidden Umbrella labs.

The first zombie players see in the first Resident Evil game from 1996 is an iconic moment for anyone who experienced it. We see Chris and his team encounter a zombie in the Spencer Mansion in the trailer, and it’s likely their first time seeing a zombie.

In the original Japanese game, Biohazard, the last character in “tasty” is missing (changing it from “umai” to “uma” in Japanese), making the phrase translate to “itchy horse.”

Another Easter Egg features a phrase that popularly appeared in the first game. In the original Resident Evil game from 1996 (as well as the remake), the player finds a diary describing an Umbrella worker’s gradual mental collapse as they become a zombie. The last page has only the number “4” for a date, and the entry reads “Itchy. Tasty.” After reading the diary, a zombie bursts out of a closet. The diary is referenced in the trailer written in blood on a window of a house where Claire is attacked by a woman.

Birkin mutated beyond these stages in the game, but the movie might not get all the way to the giant blob phase.

Among the next few clips of action, we see a huge monster descending from above. The gigantic eyeballs and and spikes mean this is almost certainly one of the mutations of William Birkin. Birkin is a scientist who infects himself with the G-Virus in Resident Evil 2, and he becomes the main recurring antagonist in the game. The clip in the trailer looks like it could be from inside of a train, and that is where Birkin was finally defeated right before the end of the game. Could this be showing us a scene from close to the end of the movie?

The licker scene in the trailer looks very close to the same scene in Resident Evil 2.

The final big reveal of the trailer features another iconic scene. Much like how the first zombie in the first Resident Evil is a big deal, the first “licker” seen in Resident Evil 2 is a big deal. This clip doesn’t really point to any specific plot points, it’s just awesome to see.

So what does this all add up to? It looks like Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is going to be a mashup of the first two Resident Evil Games but where they both take place at the same time. Claire Redfield convinces her brother Chris that something needs to be done, so they split up to get to work. Claire meets Leon at the police station and they unravel a conspiracy involving Umbrella, Birkin, and Birkin’s daughter Sherry (also featured very briefly in the trailer). Meanwhile, Chris and his S.T.A.R.S. team investigate the mansion and uncover more of the horrors Umbrella created.

It’s clear there will be a lot of zombies, and at least some of them will be able to run.

It seems like a lot to try to squeeze into one movie, and with as many references as the trailer gives away, you can imagine that there are many they’re keeping hidden. Will the Tyrant (a recurring monster in the games) be in the movie? Surely Albert Wesker will turn out to be working for Umbrella, but there doesn’t seem to be a hint of that in the trailer (although he does tell the S.T.A.R.S. team to split up). Sherry Birkin is a huge part of Resident Evil 2, but she’s barely in the trailer either. There is a lot left to the unknown, which is great for fans of the games who know them so incredibly well.

As a side note, the trailers published on the Sony Pictures Entertainment YouTube channel and the Sony Pictures India channel are slightly different. They’re identical up until the Ashford Twins clip, but the next few seconds are not the same. The first trailer shows more shots inside the mansion including the helicopter crash and Wesker saying “split up.” The India trailer leaves those moments out, instead going quickly to the lab-coat zombie reveal. The India trailer does have one extra clip a few seconds later though. When Claire is attacked in the house, there is a little boy under a table that says “you need help” to her. Then a woman smashes through a window just like in the other trailer.

International Trailer

This is the trailer poster to the Sony Pictures Malaysia YouTube channel.

For some reason, there is a completely different trailer poster for certain countries. The trailer seen above is almost nothing like the one poster on the main Sony Pictures Entertainment channel.

Without going into a full breakdown, the international trailer seems more story based, given more time to William Birkin and his family as well as Police Chief Irons. Many different clips are shown, including revealing that Claire hitched a ride with the truck driver at some point, and the truck driver’s dog is probably the zombie dog that attacks Irons. It also confirms that it is Brad Vickers being attacked by a zombie in the helicopter. What’s lost in this trailer are some of the more overt references to the games that may or may not have anything to do with the plot.

Cast & Crew

The S.T.A.R.S. team entering the mansion consists of Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield (pictured) along with Albert Wesker and Richard Aiken.

Writer/Director – Johannes Roberts

Johannes Roberts has a history of making horror films, most notably directing 47 Meters Down (2017) and its sequel as well as The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018). Roberts has stated that the 2019 Resident Evil 2 remake is what convinced him to make the film, so expect the movie to feel a lot like that.

Main Cast

  • Kaya Scoleario (Maze Runner movies, Crawl) as Claire Redfield
  • Robbie Amell (The Babysitter) as Chris Redfield
  • Neal McDonough (American Horror Story: Death Valley) as William Birkin
  • Hannah John-Kamen (Ant-Man and the Wasp, Tomb Raider) as Jill Valentine
  • Avan Jogia (Zombieland: Double Tap) as Leon S. Kennedy
  • Tom Hopper (Terminator: Dark Fate, Game of Thrones) as Albert Wesker
  • Donal Logue (Gotham) as Chief Irons
  • Marina Mazepa (The Unholy, Malignant) as Lisa Trevor
  • Lily Gao as Ada Wong
  • Josh Cruddas as Ben Bertolucci
  • Nathan Dales as Brad Vickers
  • Holly de Barros as Sherry Birkin
  • Janet Porter as Annette Birkin
  • Chad Rook as Richard Aiken

All of these character names should be familiar with players of the games. They also point to a whole bunch of stories, so it will be interesting to see what gets the most emphasis in the movie.

Meet The Author

Chris Catt

Chris has a degree in film studies at Temple University’s campus in Tokyo, Japan. He is a renowned expert on horror cinema.