Resident Evil

Author: Keith R.A. DeCandido
Pocket Star Books
RRP 5.99, US $6.99, Cdn $10.50
ISBN50 7434 9291 9
Available 01 November 2004

The Hive: a subterranean genetic research facility owned and operated by Umbrella. With computerised defences and heavily armed human backup, the Hive is impregnable and invulnerable. But something has gone fatally wrong. The Hive has lost containment of its most lethal and horrific creation: a virus that kills and then reanimates human life, reducing the entire facility staff to mindless creatures with a single driving force - hunger...

Resident Evil the film was about as enjoyable as a foot full of verrucas, so one would like to hope that the novelisation might be a more tolerable affair. Sadly, the book is as pedestrian as its celluloid counterpart.

Focusing on the good, the first positive point is the preamble before the Hive falls foul of its computer. Background and motivations are always helpful in rounding out a character, and here we are given much more than the film offered. This includes a character that in the film does little more than kick the bucket. Here in the novelisation the character features quite prominently before the narrative expires her, and all to good effect.

The second positive point is the Licker. Remember how atrocious it looked in the film? Of course, in print, one needn't be insulted by bad CGI, so the descriptions of the Licker do it more justice and lend it more impact than it ever received in the film.

But that's it for good points. Now to the bad, starting with the genre of this novelisation: Horror. It's not unfair to expect written Horror to be, well, horrific. Resident Evil: Genesis casts a mere glance when something nasty happens, reporting the carnage without the required splatter-soaked embellishments. This is very disappointing.

Worse is the character of Rain. We all remember Private Vasquez from Aliens, and what a mean, if entertaining, MoFo she was. Rain is a poor copy of that character, and her aggressive, snarling attitude - accompanied by a constant stream of expletives - quickly wears thin. She comes across as nothing more than a moronic thug, which isn't helpful when she is one of the main protagonists in the story.

Sometimes, a novelisation will show a fan what a film could have been. Resident Evil: Genesis reads as bad as the film looks.

Jeff Watson

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