The first Resident Evil was released in 2002. Over 10 years and four sequels later, Resident Evil continues to have quite a large fan following, never mind the naysayers.
However, there is one thing interesting about the series, and that is its use of a different color palette for each sequel. Here’s the first one:
Resident Evil (2002)
Of course, each film doesn’t stick to one palette throughout its duration, but they all have a dominant color tone. And when in one of the later films Alice returns to a location, the same palette is used. Let’s speculate about two reasons for how and why these color choices were made (we’re not saying they were right or we are right, it’s just all in good fun).
Resident Evil : Apocalypse (2004)
The first possible influence on color is location.
The first film was mostly in the underground Hive where experiments were carried out. Labs are sterile, so this meant lots of whites. Since the place is inundated with LEDs, blue-greens were heavily represented as well. Later on, in classic horror-movie style, blues dominate.
By the time the sequel came out most viewers (ones who didn’t know the video game series existed even) already knew about zombies and viruses. To represent the cold and dead city, they chose blue as the dominant color and orange as the color representing life and human skin tones (I wonder where they got that idea from?).
In later parts, most of the action takes place above ground – a post-apocalyptic scenario where most humans have converted and civilisation has fallen into disarray. and what better way to show dystopia than miles of barren and parched desert (another novel idea not seen anywhere!). Therefore, khakhi is the dominant color in Extinction (2007).
In the last released installment, Alice (Milla Jovovich) returns to the Umbrella Corp base, and therefore some color elements from the first part make a return. Everything becomes more abstract, 2001-like (author dives for cover).
Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
What else could have influenced the color palette? How about psychology?
Here the color palette gains utmost freedom. As human emotions and thoughts keep rapidly changing (naturally, what if you’re attacked while nature calls?) the colors representing the human psyche keep changing as well. In the first part, Alice is amnesiac (a possible reason for the brilliant acting job) for the better half of the film, and white depicts blankness. Therefore white is the predominant color in many parts of the film. Then, when Alice dons her famous red gown as the dreaded zombie hunter, red becomes a dominant color (what else were you going to look at?).
In later installments of the franchise, we see destruction and devastation in complete abandon, which means lots of exploding stuff and blazing fires all around, best shown by the color yellow and brown for burnt human skin, all the way into the afterlife:
Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)
When Alice is in contact with Wesker, she becomes a “somewhat” mindless killing machine seemingly in servitude to Umbrella Corp., represented by the memorable red and white logo, so these colors are a walk back in memeory lane to the first part. Or they just ran out of colors.
Resident Evil :Retribution (2012)
So there you go, these are some of my speculative color theories of the Resident Evil film franchise.
Let me know if you have any theories of your own. Did I miss any color?