Resident Evil’s Umbrella Corporation would make short work of lobbying Irish politicians

Patrick Freyne: The problem with adapting video games is that you remove the player’s own hopes from the equation

If I ever see a Fine Gael election manifesto with an overly specific paragraph promising that inward pharmaceutical investment won’t cause people to degenerate into a zombie horde, I’ll know it was probably due to the lobbying of the Umbrella Corporation in New Raccoon City. I’ve learned a lot about corporate lobbying from the excellent Uber Files (see elsewhere on this website) and the aforementioned Resident Evil antagonists (the Umbrella Corporation not Fine Gael) seem like the kind of people who’d go in for such antics.

In defence of the Umbrella Corporation, let me say that while its experimental activities may lead to a zombie apocalypse, they will also lead to solid jobs (in mad science/zombie killing/being a zombie) and that is a net good for the hardworking people of this country. So stop listening to left-wing scaremongering and start worrying about the real enemy: Zombie Sinn Féin (This paragraph is also from the hypothetical manifesto I mentioned in the first line).

Resident Evil (Netflix) is a spin-off of a film franchise which was itself a spin-off of a classic video game. The problem with adapting video games to more traditional narrative storytelling formats is that when you remove the player’s own hopes and dreams from the equation, what you’re left with is a cool suit and some baddies to shoot.

More practically, if I was managing the Umbrella Corporation I’d hire more guards, because that lab is filled with secrets and zombies

When playing a game you can think, “the hero feels a bit bloated and is regretting eating a family pack of Haribo Starmix for lunch; what a nuanced character he is!”. None of that necessarily comes across on the TV screen. Sometimes the characters don’t eat Haribo Starmix for lunch at all.


You can see this problem starkly with Paramount’s Halo adaptation, a programme which is filled with complicated computer game lore and has characterisation that amounts to: “Has a cool gun and frowns a lot”. I imagine the whiteboard in that writers’ room is just the words “pew pew!” written over and over in red marker. And occasionally: “perhaps more frowning?” And maybe: “Finale: frowns his whole face off!”

Resident Evil tries to go for something a bit more nuanced. It’s set in two different timelines, one in the “future” where a scientist is trying to figure out what’s going on with the roaming zombie people while also trying not to get eaten by a giant death caterpillar. I know science people and they say this is exactly what their life is like.

The other time period is the “present day” where a family is moving into a new corporate-owned development filled with happy pod-people wearing pastel shades. It reminds me a little of the hoardings around vulture fund-owned apartment buildings all over Dublin. This family are very relatable, however. Albert is an ordinary single father trying to juggle work, family and the accidental creation of zombie people.

He regularly injects something into his own neck, but who are we to judge? He might be a diabetic. Or maybe it’s just tea or necessary neck juices. One way or another I’m sure it has no bearing whatsoever on the future plot (I’ve only seen the first four episodes).

The Umbrella corporation for whom Albert works has a bit of a problem. While their new drug “Joy” successfully cures people of their depression, it also turns them into brainless monsters who bleed from the eyes and crave human flesh. Albert thinks they probably shouldn’t be rushing this product out to market. His boss, Evelyn, disagrees and thinks it’ll be grand. As a balanced journalist I feel obliged to both-sides this issue and suggest a compromise of turning some people into zombies but not all of them (this is called “centrism”).

The idea that they might not be allowed go ahead with their product launch never even arises. Apparently, getting FDA approval for zombie-powder is a cinch in this universe. It’s clearly a conspiracy that goes all the way to the president. Is his name (P)resident Evil? I hope so.

Albert’s daughters include both kinds of teenager, “sassy rebel” and “meek wallflower”. They are named “Jade” (she’s the future scientist) and “Billie” (she’s a future shadowy Umbrella Corporation boss). These are also the type of American names that the priest wouldn’t let you take for your confirmation, so this may be triggering for you.

Both Billie and Jade are concerned with fitting in at a new school with its sneering hipsters and bullies because American writers, like some South Dubliners, have never gotten over their time at secondary school. For unconvincing reasons and probably also due to their latchkey status (Albert works a lot when not injecting himself with neck juice) they break into the Umbrella Corporation’s lab.

This is remarkably straightforward. All they have to do is steal Albert’s ID card. If I was a well-paid consultant (and in a way this is my pitch to any evil corporations reading this), I’d have a few unjudgemental observations for Umbrella Corporation management to think about: a) their drugs turn people into zombies b) teenagers can easily break into their laboratories c) have they considered migrating to Microsoft Teams?

More practically, if I was managing the Umbrella Corporation I’d hire more guards, because that lab is filled with secrets and zombies. I’d also invest in bite-proof clothes because before you can say “that advancing dog is a zombie” Billie has been savagely bitten (later, being part zombie makes her good at skateboarding, like Teen Wolf). And so it is that Jade beats a dog to death, much like Setanta in the old Irish legends and, also, a lad I knew in school.

This turns out to be good practice for Jade because in the future timeline she spends most of her day escaping zombie hordes while covered in blood. She leaves a smug Irishman to be eaten by zombies. She tells a clingy mother to abandon her zombie son. She chops a zombie queen’s head off with a chainsaw (zombies are apparently royalists). She explodes a swarm of ravenous zombies with a grenade. At this point she must surely recall the time she beat a dog to death as a relatively halcyon era of childhood innocence.

Resident Evil is very violent but in a two-dimensional, weightless manner. You barely get to know any of the people who explode or are eaten or are chain-sawed. Much like, I suppose, you’re playing a video game. For an ultraviolent television show with actual emotional stakes, a gruesome imagination and a coherent political philosophy, I recommend, instead, Amazon’s The Boys. I’m sure that show’s nefarious superhuman-creating Vought Corporation would also be good at lobbying Irish politicians. Sure why wouldn’t you if you could get away with it?