It wasn’t long ago, as recently as July 29, 2011, in fact, that people were discussing why video game movies weren’t a thing anymore. A drove of flops, as The Atlantic details, put moviemakers off at a time when storytelling was hitting new peaks. Since then, gaming and story-driven games have only become more popular, with the rich writing and incredible visuals lending them very well to the big screen. More recently, there has been a successful boom of video game adaptations, with Sonic the Hedgehog ($320 million worldwide), Pokémon Detective Pikachu ($433 million worldwide), and Rampage ($428 million worldwide) releasing in 2020, 2019, and 2018, respectively. With the money now there and none of Box Office Mojo’s top ten video game adaptations being committed to horror movies, perhaps it’s the time to give deserving game franchises the horror movie treatment.
An iconic franchise deserving a true horror movie
It may be the longest-running of the sub-genre, but few could wholeheartedly categorize Paul W. S. Anderson’s Resident Evil seven-film series ($1.2 billion worldwide) as either semi-loyal game adaptations or horror films. The zany action flicks are regularly lambasted despite the source material. Resident Evil Village, for example, combines all the series’ greatest elements, from Resident Evil 2’s palpable horror to Resident Evil 4’s aesthetic and mechanics. Fans and critics heaped praise onto the Resident Evil 2 Remake in 2019, hailing its ability to keep the core of its horrifying gameplay while bringing it to modern consoles. With the franchise essentially setting the benchmark for horror in gaming, it’s a shame that the movies, as Looper details, got so much completely wrong. Resident Evil games are tense, often claustrophobic, and contain a genuine threat despite often fleeting numbers of zombies, while Anderson’s Alice, a non-game-canon character, is indestructible and just runs from one action sequence to another. Resident Evil deserves a movie that recreates the horror of the games and commits to its leads.
Infuse some horror to spice up a well-known tale
Before the recent surge of successes, people could always point to Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider ($275 million worldwide) as an example of a video game movie that worked. Since then, the Tomb Raider property has only grown in popularity, even expanding beyond video games. On the entertainment platform Betway Casino, Lara Croft: Temples and Tombs has been a mainstay among the Top Games section. This time, Lara Croft is uncovering the secrets of ancient Egypt amongst the gods Sobek and Anubis. In her home of video gaming, Lara Croft’s prequel trilogy by Crystal Dynamics, which concluded in 2018, has been a rousing success, depicting a much more grounded, inexperienced character who has to rise to the challenges of myth and legend that present themselves.
While each of the three games offered sequences of true horror and freight, easily the most unsettling were those in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, amongst the Yaaxil. The reboot movie Tomb Raider ($275 million worldwide) with Alicia Vikander certainly drew from the first game in the new series but featured very little by way of horror. For the sequel, Lovecraft Country showrunner Misha Green is writing and directing, which will hopefully mean that horror sequences will be drawn into the on-screen world of Tomb Raider. If any more inspiration is needed to give Tomb Raider movies a more horror leaning, creatives could look to the never-made Ascension, which was very much going to be a horror survival game.
A long-delayed project that could get a kick start soon
One of the most iconic, claustrophobic, and truly terrifying video games of all time is Dead Space and Dead Space 2. The franchise began to fall apart, with Electronic Arts pressuring the studio, Visceral Games, to beat the “disappointing” over five million copies sold from the first two instalments. Despite the third game selling so poorly that the series was cancelled, there were still reassurances from EA in July 2013 (five months after the third game’s release) that Dead Space movies were on the way, per Variety. As any fan of the franchise will know, outside of the announcement of the remake, nothing has come of the plans to create these films. The closest that we can get is Dead Space: Downfall on IMDb TV – an animated prequel to the first game, released in 2008. Given its outer-space setting, disturbing antagonists, and tight setting, Ridley Scott would be perfect to direct; that is if the Prometheus prequel series ever comes around to Alien. Until then, fans of the legendary horror title can await the remake.
Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, and Dead Space are all superb candidates to be given the horror treatment on the big screen, with each of them offering plenty of source material to inspire any movie creatively.