Let’s not beat around the bush – Resident Evil 7: Biohazard truly is a masterpiece. It’s what I’ve always wanted Resident Evil to be – pure, gruelling horror.
Whilst it successfully takes the long-running series back to its roots, it also grabs inspiration from a whole host of films and other games in the horror genre along the way, blending them together to create its own violent and psychologically oppressive nightmare. So let me highlight some of what are likely to be its biggest inspirations; the subtle and not so subtle hints and references that make Resident Evil 7: Biohazard a love letter to horror.
BE WARNED: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS PAST THIS POINT SO YOU MAY WANT TO LEAVE AND RETURN AT A LATER DATE IF YOU HAVEN’T COMPLETED THE GAME YET.
Straight away, Resident Evil 7’s move to a first-person viewpoint alludes to the found footage horror genre. It’s when you start finding VHS tapes that you can play, taking control of other characters for brief periods of time to unravel various strands of the story, however, that I get to thinking about the 2012 film V/H/S. The film itself isn’t particularly good, but the idea of using VHS tapes as a way of passing control over to other characters works really well in Resident Evil 7.
The Blair Witch Project
Keeping with the found footage inspirations, in the first of the VHS tapes that you find you assume the role of Clancy Jarvis, cameraman for the paranormal investigation/urban exploration team The Sewer Gators. Not long after entering the Dulvey Haunted House in Louisiana, one of your crew members, Andre Stickland, mysteriously goes missing. Where do you find him? In the basement – stood facing a wall rather ominously. Sure, you discover that he’s actually dead, but is it just me that found a distinct The Blair Witch Project vibe to this sequence?
The Evil Dead
Possibly my favourite film of all time, The Evil Dead seems to have influenced the creators of Resident Evil 7 quite a bit. For a start, Mia’s possession early in the game is very reminiscent of the possession process and supernatural capabilities of those in The Evil Dead. Then, Ethan ends up getting his left arm chopped off with a chainsaw, the same arm that Bruce Campbell chops off with a chainsaw in Evil Dead 2. He doesn’t get his stapled back on though. The chainsaw boss battle near the dissection room even has Jack Baker using Bruce Campbell’s popular Evil Dead catchphrase, “Groovy!”. Oh, and Mia is also the name of the central character in the 2013 Evil Dead reboot/sequel. It’s more than likely a coincidence, but you never know!
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Awakening after being knocked out by Jack Baker, you’re treated to a scene that will feel very familiar to anyone that has watched the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Sat at a dining room table, bound to a chair, you’re introduced to the mad hillbilly-like Baker family, complete with a dead looking grandma. I’m presuming the food on the table is human meat too, given Ethan’s reluctance to eat.
It’s a shame that Resident Evil 7’s melee combat is pretty much restricted to just a couple of knives, as the short but visceral battle in which you are armed with an axe brought back happy memories of the great Xbox 360 launch title, Condemned. The black goo and the creatures that emerge of them are also very much a throwback to Condemned 2 which featured similar visual elements and enemies.
Let’s face it; it’s highly likely that the next-gen Silent Hill teaser, P.T., played a huge part in Resident Evil 7 going first-person. It was terrifying, people loved it and then it was cancelled, leaving the door wide open for someone to step in and steal its thunder, which Resident Evil 7 has truly done. Silent Hill’s influence can also be felt in the environments that become corrupted, often in real-time.
A fair way into the game you become Lucas’ plaything after he captures Zoe and Mia. He hopes to put an end to your exploits via a test that he likes to put people through; a test that somewhat reminded me of the film franchise, Saw. Luckily for you, you’ve already seen how the test plays out thanks to the VHS footage of Clancy’s attempt at it, enabling you to get one over on Lucas and escape.
Heavily influenced by Japanese horror, at the centre of F.E.A.R. is a girl called Alma who has taken command of a man named Paxton Fettel and by proxy an army of telepathically controlled supersoldiers. Resident Evil 7’s Eveline is also obviously influenced by Japanese horror, and you discover that she’s been controlling and manipulating the Baker family all along, as well as creating the Molded.
These are just eight examples of games and films that may have shaped Resident Evil 7 from its conception to release, but I’m sure there’s many more. The Baker family coming back time and time again after you’ve seemingly killed them and pursuing you, for example, is typical of slasher movies. It’s pretty clear though, that Resident Evil 7 does a great job of amalgamating all of its influences and creating an experience that feels fresh; something that has its own identity. And for that, I applaud it.