Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

As it is wont to do, December has swooped in with all its chaotic energy and left no emotional stone unturned. Low-level holiday energy gets swirled in with ongoing pandemic unease, and to remain an informed citizen requires a surprising deal of personal girding just to get through the day. On the one hand, there’s a lingering sense that everyone’s in the process of cashing out just before the value plummets, but on the other hand, eggnog is plentiful. Even if you’re trying to give a carefully selected present to those you love, seditious agent Louis DeJoy is derailing the very foundation of domestic communication. So it’s not exactly an uplifting journey here.

Anyway, as always, find some recommendations of what to stream below, as well as some thoughts on the latest Resident Evil installment, which is now in theaters. Look back at past issues of the Scene for more recommended titles.

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City in theaters

Pros: Avan Jogia (Now Apocalypse) plays a noble fool who ends up having to respond to much of the evil-in-residence in Raccoon City and has a big, dumb action moment that still made me smile. Writer-director Johannes Roberts (The Strangers 2, 47 Meters Down and 47 Meters Down: Uncaged) knows how to work a left-field needle-drop. Nathan Dales (Darry from Letterkenny) has a two-scene cameo as this film’s Cpl. Ferro equivalent.

Cons: No Milla Jovovich as Alice. Granted, this reboot was meant to realign the Resident Evil series to the plots of the video games, but none of the characters resonates with you like Milla (though Jogia’s Leon Kennedy really tries). Messy, messy effects. A sense of pointlessness that extends throughout the scene-setting all the way through the grand conspiracy by which the Umbrella Corporation unmakes the titular city. And building on that, there is a sinking sensation that it doesn’t matter if they make another one of these, because this one feels like treading water. 

Even the Wind Is Afraid via Tubi

Hasta el Viento Tiene Miedo (English title Even the Wind Is Afraid) is a 1968 supernatural thriller that takes place in a semi-remote Mexican school for girls, where it turns out something unspeakable happened five years ago. And wouldn’t you know it, the coterie of bad girls (more accurately, the interesting members of the student body) just got themselves confined to the grounds while the rest of the girls go on a 10-day break. Has one of them been experiencing prescient dreams in which she walks with the dead? Oh, yes indeed. This atmospheric, windswept shocker from director Carlos Enrique Taboada feels like a direct influence on so many classic examples of girl-school cinema, with an elegant and earthy approach to its central haunting. If you’ve been looking for a classy ghost story with some palpable queer undertones, this is a great way to spend less than an hour-and-a-half. (Note: Non-Spanish-speaking viewers will need to activate the English subtitles manually.) 

In Dreams via Amazon Prime Video

Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, The Good Thief) took an interesting but messy Bari Wood novel, Doll’s Eyes, and turned it into one of the greatest thrillers of the ’90s. After a horrifying tragedy, children’s book author Claire Cooper (Annette Bening, never better) finds herself seeing the world through the eyes of a murderer. Vivian Thompson (Robert Downey Jr., not giving a fuck and resolutely iconic because of it) has been waiting, you see, for someone just like Claire. So what starts out as an exquisite ’90s Gothic becomes a cat-and-mouse chase that is steeped in swoony, fecund imagery that lends itself to fairy-tale and murderscape interpretations. A drowned town, the apple-orchard equivalent of a body farm, an immersive children’s theater performance in the middle of the woods, a bravura hospital escape and some Jungian dreamscapes make In Dreams a singular and unique undertaking. That’s also thanks to Darius Khondji’s magnificent lighting. But Bening is absolutely amazing in this — on par with Virginia Madsen in Candyman ’92 as far as unforgettable actressing in genuinely disturbing genre cinema.

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