Resident Evil 7 has many masters, from schlockbuster found footage horror to mainstream offerings. It treats the backwood bayou stereotype as a viral infection (a clever if ultimately unfilled promise), induces VCR terror tropes, eventually manifesting into killer kids, but not before blending in a touch of Sam Raimi’s off-beat Evil Dead – or at least Army of Darkness.
It’s cornball horror presented in a dreary, shadowy aesthetic, not enough to hide the eye rolling camera tricks designed for VR and/or 3D. One of the kills performs identically to 2009’s My Bloody Valentine 3D, the same dimensional gravitas and all. The rest is to genre par – a duo of characters without any measurable development, a goopy science experiment, and abundant shotgun shells to quell the outbreak. In western fashion, the coda turns to enormity and scale, if not enough so as to be impervious to guns.
If only any of this mattered, high in traditional Resident Evil design smarts but rudimentary in all else. Derivative or not, the moldy home which contains much of Resident Evil 7 is an evocative, narrative enriching centerpiece. Those final chapters, free from the musty, humid, swampy interiors, feel inherently tacked on. So do the characters, lacking in detail as much as they are purpose. Kudos for a clever plot twist to rationalize the events, if only any one of the key players presented something to care about.