Exclusive interview: Johannes Roberts talks ‘Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City’

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As a lifelong fan of both the horror genre and Resident Evil series, Johannes Roberts landed his dream job when he was tasked to direct feature-length reboot Welcome to Raccoon City, reworking the project from scratch after it had initially been developed by Mortal Kombat duo James Wan and Greg Russo.

Eyebrows of suspicion were raised when it was first announced the console favorite was getting a double-quick reboot, with a new spin on Resident Evil first touted while Paul W.S. Anderson’s The Final Chapter was still playing theaters, but Roberts and his team have stripped everything back to basics in order to deliver a straight-up horror movie that pays homage to the first two games in the long-running Capcom classic.

Ahead of Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City‘s release in theaters this coming Wednesday, We Got This Covered had the chance to speak to Roberts about his latest directorial effort, which you can check out below.

As a longtime gamer, longtime Resident Evil fan and longtime filmmaker with a background in horror, would you say Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City was the perfect storm at exactly the right time in your career?

Johannes Roberts: Good question! Yeah, it was. Everything worked. It sort of… everything fit my skill set perfectly. In that, it was both a story I’d been wanting to, you know… it’s part of a world that I’d wanted to be a part of for so long. And I had at one point even spoken years ago spoken about, like, ‘Hey guys, why don’t you…’, when I was doing an underwater movie [47 Meters Down]. ‘Why don’t you do an underwater Resident Evil movie?’.

You know, when they were doing the previous franchise, the Milla franchise. So I was always in love with the Resident Evil world, and then it just… it was such a great opportunity to have, and then it’s weird how in just a strange way reflected the world around us. And it’s been a crazy journey on this. It’s, you know, what is it? The life reflecting art.

There are Easter Eggs in pretty much every single frame, so when you were putting the film together from both a screenplay and design level, did you ever have to rein yourself in from leaning too far into fan service at the risk of alienating people that aren’t all that familiar with the property?

Johannes Roberts: Yeah, yes. And no, I don’t. My… the way I approached it, it always would be story first. So whether that was dealing with the characters, or the locations, or the monsters, or whatever, it was always about the story we were telling. And that was the primary driver of the process. And then after that, then it was like when you had this… almost like, imagine a highway. We built the highway, which is the story, and then it’s like the world around it right now. Let’s bring in everything we can.

And just, you know, I’m a big nerd, so I was just like, ‘Let’s have everything we can put in there’. Let’s have some fun with it. And it was just so much fun. This is a film for a a horror audience, rather than specifically Resident Evil. People really got everything, and that’s wonderful. Yeah, I think there’s going to be loads where you go back and you’ll be like, ‘Oh god, I hadn’t even noticed that’, so fingers crossed.

That concludes our interview with Johannes Roberts. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccon City is coming to theaters this Wednesday, November 24.