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Resident Evil: Afterlife

Check your brain in at the door

by Kavish Chetty / 11.09.2010

I was troubled at dinner once by a middle-aged woman with pubescent streaks of blonde in her hair. She leered across the table at me, accenting her accusations in hyper-American drawl: “You just need to cut loose, man,” I was informed. She admonished me, amongst other things, for the fact that I didn’t know how to “suspend my disbelief.” I had become the recipient of this critical largesse because I told her that some horror film she was exalting for its atavistic kicks was “bullshit”. Her idea was that it required you to suspend your disbelief; kind of check in your brain and logic at the door, and then enjoy all the symptoms in stereoscopic splendour. This, accordingly, is the condition: if you want to enjoy pulp cinema (allow me the transplantation), you must will yourself into a lobotomy to do so.

My response (although fucked if it could pinprick its way into the drama of her American life, in which she was celebrity and we were all part of the banal mise-en-scene) at the time was this, and I’m reminded of it by Resident Evil: Afterlife: the best fantasy cinema doesn’t require you to will yourself into supplication of its pleasures; the best fantasy cinema will surreptitiously disrobe you of your cynicism and adulthood while you watch. The suspension of disbelief is an automatic by-product of a story well told. Into the dark forests, into the dark fortresses: the enthralled mind gives no pause for an intruding reality.

And so with that rather portly introduction, I usher you into a new theatre of nightmares. Like the most regular of nightmares, Resident Evil has fear of death (manifested heavy-handed and literally by zombies) and a slippery plot. And it’s not so much that the plot is complicated, but more that the sense that it does make is senseless itself. Like nightmares, it also feels malformed. It prologues for about seventy-five minutes worth of pleasureless violence, and then the final twenty minutes are in fact just another prologue for an inevitable sequel.

Resident Evil: Afterlife

This almost dystopian disregard for audience intelligence is why the cinema has become one of the most frightening spectacles of our time – while advertising and marketing impulses throb and pulse in our peripheral vision (you can “adblock” them out if you try hard enough), the cinema is designed to make an entertainment out of idiocy. It’s designed to make stupidity appealing. It’s designed for you to “check in your brain and logic at the door”, let the writers have their way with your moist mind, and then send you back out into the world to affect and assert your altered identity. Pardon me the melodrama – this is the condition of pulp cinema. Cultural theorists feast!

The movie itself is hardly remarkable. It segues into plangent electronic sound-scores every so often to shiver your adrenaline in its flesh-vials. Then it serves up a couple of gunshots and some tacky dialogue. The dialogue is teenage – the sort of clichés so painful that in real life they’d grind conversation to a halt. And the cast! The cast are literally flesh vessels who can bruise and bleed. Most of them die, all of them promise to possibly be killed or at least drip red for your vicarious enjoyment. At one point, Milla Jovovich teases that she’s going to shower: she removes her samurai blades and gun holsters behind the veil of steam rising from the bathroom floor. My sagging eyelids suddenly sprung up (I’ll pretend my eyebrows were curved in amusement). But then – no! – more zombies, more gunshots. I’ve seen more inventive tortures of the body in other action films, and I’ve experienced more inventive tortures of the spirit too.

I see the place of cinema like this in a world like this. I’m no idealist; it certainly has its place alongside all the other guilty rites of 21st century young adulthood. But of a bad bunch, this is certainly the most boring, unimaginative, psychically hurtful bullshit I’ve had to put up with. In summary, do not see this film.

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RESPONSES (21)
  1. Jack the Knife says:

    Damn, this is a good review.

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  2. lans says:

    Dont listen to this jaded reviewer, who is too big for his boots.

    This film is entertaining, and will have you on your seat, the whole way, the action is intense, and if your a fan of resident evil games, alot of this movie will make much more sense.

    This reviewer thinks we should all watch boring movies like the titanic,gone with the wind, all these supposed A+ films.

    But TRUST ME Dont listen to movie critics, they all jaded, and their passion for entertainment is gone, this reviewer is just writing reviews coz its his JOB!

    Resident Evil:Afterlife has more passion and thoughts for its viewers than this reviewer will ever have. Look at this review its dull boring drab and only a page long.

    I give this supposed Movie Critic, a 3/10 for his nonsensical, drab review, trying to get hits by taking advantage of a fanflick, im sorry but films that are always about love and etc to me are boring.

    Get a real job wannabee blogger

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  3. julius says:

    since when are 15-year olds commenting on mahala?

    Loved the piece, anonymous reviewer, although you could have it made it easier on yourself if you simply said: “It’s a videogame movie, therefore it is shit.”

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Who wrote this, it’s fucking awesome. And lans, yeah I am sure the reviewer wants you to watch Titanic. Get a clue.

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  5. Roger Young says:

    Oh dear @lans (Lan’s or ians? Probs LANS, right?) you’ve stumbled into the wrong place.

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  6. random says:

    Word! that was DOPE!

    this is why I keep coming back.

    Go suck balls Ians.

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  7. Andy says:

    sorry….the anonymous reviewer is my fault. this is of course, once again, the fine work of Mr Kavish Chetty esq.

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  8. IMDB remains the best reviewer says:

    Well, it got 7.8 on IMDB, which is surprisingly high for a zombie sequel. Demographic breakdown shows it appeals especially to under 18’s, but even though I’m double that, I would not rule out any movie that got a 7.8 on IMDB.

    7.8 must mean good CGI, lots of action, and one or two simplistic twists that make it better than the average zombie movie.

    Come-on reviewer. What were you expecting? Criticizing the 4th installment of a movie based on a computer game in the zombie genre is attacking a straw-man.

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  9. Roger Young says:

    SIMPLISTIC TWISTS FTW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (also deffo of critiquing straw man to follow)

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  10. Anonymous says:

    lans…um, no. The reviewer is making a very pertinent point, to whit:

    “The best fantasy cinema doesn’t require you to will yourself into supplication of its pleasures; the best fantasy cinema will surreptitiously disrobe you of your cynicism and adulthood while you watch. The suspension of disbelief is an automatic by-product of a story well told.”

    Different people find different things entertaining. He doesn’t find this entertaining at all and quite frankly I can see why. Is it jaded of someone to say “I don’t wish to be bashed over the head with an explosion every 30 seconds and a fast paced soundtrack, I refuse to praise mediocre lowest common denominator mass produced drivel” ? Is it terrible of him to put forward the argument that the best films draw you into their world without you being aware of it until you are fully immersed in the story line, rather than using cheesy plot devices, loud music and a host of other cheap tricks to try and drive a story along?

    I don’t think that’s being too big for your boots at all. God help us all if we now live in a world where whenever anyone questions the mass produced pap we get fed masquerading as cinema they are told they are jaded and too opinionated.

    Basically you are telling us that you love McDonalds, and that there’s nothing wrong with that, and that you don’t appreciate anyone criticizing your love of cultural junk food (although that may be too good a description in this case). Each to his own I suppose.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Wahaha, Lans my bru…you can’t be parading your stupidity like that dude!

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  12. Doctor L. says:

    “This almost dystopian disregard for audience intelligence is why the cinema has become one of the most frightening spectacles of our time.”

    I like this sentence. And I thinkit just gave me an idea.

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  13. Daniel Browne says:

    “The best fantasy cinema doesn’t require you to will yourself into supplication of its pleasures; the best fantasy cinema will surreptitiously disrobe you of your cynicism and adulthood while you watch. The suspension of disbelief is an automatic by-product of a story well told.”

    I *love* this quote and would like to agree with it 100%. That said, I suspect I will go and watch this movie and enjoy it, all the while holding the knowledge that it is utter rubbish in the back of my mind. However I would definitely say that this means that it does not fall into the category of films described by the quote above. I’m not quite sure what it says about me that I can agree wholeheartedly with your review and yet enjoy the movie. Anyway, I haven’t seen it yet and I find myself hoping that I won’t enjoy it, because that means I won’t have to think any further about this…. 😀

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  14. S. Mart Ass says:

    Daniel Browne, are you for real? Any relation to Charlie Browne? One of those many middle-class well-educated Sarf Efricens who has the vocabulary and the desire to be respected as an intelligent and discriminating man-about-town, but who’s too fucking lazy to draw the line at what he consumes because he’s exercising his right to be solidly entertained and not put through the discomfort of being challenged by something original and inspired? Did you make it through the last sentence or was that too long for you? Don’t forget to watch Top Billing this week.

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  15. Miss Juju says:

    @ S. Mart Ass

    LOL!!!

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  16. lans says:

    Guess What Resident Evil After life is the most succesful movie in the series grossing more 74 million dollars world wide!!!!! the budget was 60 million and Milla Jokovich has tweeted they will definately be a resi 5!!!!

    So suck on that haters. Your supposedly smart opinions are being ignored!
    I loved the Resi Action Sequences When Claire and Alice Fight the Huge Brute in the Bathroom, i was in awe, the soundtrack is sick as well.

    I love your critics, you don’t say anthing only criticize but create no value of your own. You can only make fun of pioneers, whilst trying to make yourself’s by insulting other peoples work. The AGE OF THE CRITIC IS COMING TO AN END!!!!

    im not 15 im a well paid IT professional, grammar nazis be dammed i dont give @#$#!

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  17. lans says:

    ok what i just wrote was in anger/joy and i should’ve written it a bit better,regardless RESIDENT EVIL IS HERE TO STAY WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT!

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  18. Roger Young says:

    Milla Jovovich. Jo Vovich. Not Jokovich. Jesus.

    Here’s the deal, ian s, Yes, there will be more RE films, until people like you get bored of them and some other franchise comes along. But not everyone likes them. The critic’s job is not to try prevent them from making any more but rather to inform people what the film is like, in order so that can make an informed choice about what they spend their money on. A critic can be can have a positive or negative reaction to a film. You have a positive reaction and are telling us about it, therefore you too are a critic. People who have opinions are critiquing. As long as there are people there will be critics. So, no, the age of the critic will last a little bit longer than the age of Resident Evil.

    Anyway, Resident Evil 6: The Pioneers of Ground Breaking Cinema Zombie Apocalypse coming soon.

    (PS Milla and her director boyfriend are just using you for your cash, you know that right? They probably care less about the film than this critic did.)

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  19. Roger Young says:

    PS. Please excuse my bad grammar, it was late, I was tired and my sub editor was asleep.

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  20. […] Resident Evil: Afterlife | Check your brain in at the door | Mahala . teases that she's going to shower: she removes her samurai blades and gun holsters behind the veil of steam rising from the bathroom floor. My sagging eyelids suddenly sprung up (I'll pretend my eyebrows were curved in amusement). […]

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  21. Roelf says:

    All this negative things against Resident Evil, It is as clear as daylight that all these guys that criticize Resident Evil: Afterlife never played any of the games before, thus not knowing what it’s all about and go around saying it’s a shitty movie… I would say grow up… but I think you’re already too old… too old for the new generation anyway…
    I can remember when Resident Evil (The Game) first came out… we played it through the night and walked about looking and feeling like those pesky Zombies (Probably what the critic looks like everyday)
    So yeah, If you haven’t played Resident Evil, Parasite Eve, Dino Crisis or any other games and rather think that Minesweeper, Freecell, Hearts and Solitaire is cutting edge of computer games, shut up and keep your negative critics to yourself and let the people who have a passion for these kind of movies do the critics.
    PS. Dear Criticizers please go watch you “Driving Miss Daisy” and “Hairspray” in the Kiddies Room, Coz otherwise they will be in the trash like the rest of the musicals you love so much…

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