The virus that has almost wiped out humanity and turned us into zombies started innocently enough as a cure for the ageing disease afflicting a little girl. Her father went to great lengths to discover how to counteract the ailment and settled on an anti-virus, or so he thought, but when its effects were found to be something close to worldwide panacea, it spread far and wide, until the horror began. The serum was turning its users into zombies, and when they took a bite out of those around them, the bitten were afflicted too, resulting in the epidemic that has been so devastating - but there is a hope for those who remain, the adventurer Alice (Milla Jovovich), who still survives...
And as this one was titled The Final Chapter, you might expect her to succeed in her endeavours to rescue those other survivors and reverse the effects on those undead sprinters (this was one of those fast zombie movies). There were some sceptics who claimed this was no more the final chapter than any other long-running horror franchise that claimed to have reached its ultimate entry then followed it up with yet another sequel, and without spoiling it, it did conclude on a note that left the story open for more instalments. This would be good news for Jovovich and her director husband Paul W.S. Anderson, who had made millions out of what had become their signature series.
Indeed, Resident Evil was the world's most successful horror franchise, probably thanks to the sheer amount of films that had been released under that title rather than it being held in any great affection; it did seem to be the epitome of, what shall we watch? I can't be bothered watching anything. How about a Resident Evil movie? That sort of low energy viewing that anyone could appreciate knowing that it didn't really matter whether you were following the plot or not, because nobody making it wanted the experience to be too taxing. If the Underworld series had fans who followed every twist and turn to the bafflement of non-converts, this had fans who were half-asleep.
It did not matter that these had the same degree of convoluted backstory as Underworld, all you really needed to be aware of was that Milla was going to kick a lot of ass and every so often a monster would pop up. She would then kick the monsters' asses too. It was childishly simple, far less complex than even the computer game it was drawn from, indeed Milla could very well have moved onto an adaptation of Space Invaders and nobody would have been in the least bit surprised, it had the same amount of emotional involvement. If you wanted to make movie analogies, The Final Chapter came across as being inspired by the Canadian sci-fi horror Cube in its series of traps and enclosed spaces for Alice to work her way out of, this time reunited with Ali Larter from a previous episode.
The baddie was a returnee too, Iain Glen as the mad scientist who had established the Umbrella Corporation as a force in the business and medical world, then was the only thing left standing as society fell apart. To ensure it was a family affair, the Andersons even recruited their daughter Ever Anderson as the computer version of the afflicted little girl who started all this kerfuffle, reeling off much of the exposition to make it sound as if there had been more thought put into this as perhaps there appeared. Still, for all the repetitive, fast cutting, shaky camera action, you had to admire Jovovich for sticking with this type of movie, she was a genuine female action star of a kind not really witnessed outside of East Asian cinema, and she had the moves and piercing stare of a woman who means to get her way no matter how many skulls she had to crack. You had to assume she was the reason so many kept coming back to this brand, simply because we knew what we were in for should we decide to watch: it was curiously reassuring for an apocalypse. It's OK, Milla is out there... somewhere... Music by Paul Haslinger.