Lost Hands Club – Why Resident Evil Village Needs Bruce Campbell
Things are pretty strange in Resident Evil Village. Not too strange for the Resident Evil universe, but still pretty odd. Werewolves. Murderous dolls. Piles of bugs that look like creepy gals. Giants (that I wish were scarier) that morph into really gross dogs or something . It’s all pretty wild stuff, but our protagonist, Ethan, seems to take it all in stride. He’s alarmingly calm considering the stakes and some of the stuff that happens to him, honestly. It’s almost funny, but it’d be nice to see a bit more energy put into reacting to this stuff. To see someone really give this strangeness the reactions it deserves.
I’m saying that we need Bruce Campbell playing Ethan. Just going wild. No script. Just letting the reactions and quips and remarks roll out of him. Just give him some back story, then take him through the plot points of the game and have him carry us through the ridiculous moments of this game as only he can.
Spoilers ahead, folks.
I’m not saying that the voice actor isn’t doing a decent job of playing Ethan in Resident Evil Village. Ethan could have shown some emotion when his kinda-scary (mutant?) wife was getting gunned down, though. His baby is missing, and he finds her split up into bottles (just her essence, thankfully). This would probably break most folks (as a parent of toddlers, I DID NOT care for this), but Ethan just gets mad for a minute. Lady Dimitrescu cuts off his hand (YET AGAIN), but he just curses. Then, he reattaches the hand back on with a First Aid fluid. This should garner a big reaction, but nothing. Not even when this magic fluid repairs the fabric of the sleeve, too.
But Ethan, at most, complains a bit. Gets mad for a few seconds before seemingly forgetting about it. I mean, he just sort of…picks up a jar of his child’s living essence and then doesn’t say a word about it. His baby has basically been killed by gross weirdos, but you only get a few seconds of anger. In a world of horror monsters and disturbing events, it’s all incredibly tame and detached. I could see Ethan being a compelling character if his lines leaned into the seriousness of what was happening to him or went all-out on the ridiculousness of it all, but not this lifeless, middle-of-the-road calmness.
This is where Resident Evil Village would benefit from Bruce Campbell, bringing his best outlandish, comic, and campy abilities to give Ethan a little life. Some real Evil Dead 2 energy. That was the first thing I on my mind when Lady Dimitrescu’s cut off Ethan’s hand. In Evil Dead 2, Ash (played by Campbell), loses his own hand in a scene that’s pure slapstick. His hand has become possessed after being bitten by the severed head of his girlfriend, Linda. Who was possessed a bit before this since they foolishly listened to a recording of some bad incantations. Anyway, his fight with the possessed head gets a bit silly on its own, but the throwdown against his own hand is comedy/horror gold. Very “stop hitting yourself,” but with a horror slant.
It should have tossed my immersion right out the window. The scenes were just pure goofiness in a macabre setting, but the idea of fighting your spirit-possessed girlfriend, decapitating her with a shovel, and then having to kill her AGAIN when her head returned to life, keeps the scene oddly grounded. The same happens with the possessed hand as we watch Campbell fight his limb, eventually cutting it off with a chainsaw. This would hardly be the last we saw of that hand, too.
I can easily see this happening in the evil doll and magnet monster-filled world of Resident Evil Village. Colossal monster babies feel right at home with an actor who could have a showdown with his own dagger-wielding possessed hand. As the Evil Dead series progressed, there was this sense of the ridiculousness and horror being in a constant clash, with sickening moments and the totally absurd happening in equal measure. Yet Campbell somehow bounces between the two, keeping everything in this absurd, impossible balance that I cannot imagine anyone else pulling off.
Resident Evil has tended to be imperfect in finding this balance. The game is utterly silly when it has its action heroes punching boulders and suplexing sinister townsfolk. It’s also deadly serious in its looks at the abuses of pharmaceutical companies. The cruel ways big corporations use the poor or commit atrocities in countries they think they won’t get caught in. The characters do their best to hold things together, to varying degrees of success. But Ethan just doesn’t seem up to the task.
Bruce Campbell, if allowed to let lose with the same energy used to channel Ash Williams, could bring it all together, though. If you need proof of his ability to move a scene through several moods with flare, (and therefore his ability to weave through the bizarreness of Resident Evil Village), look no further than the deer head scene. He goes through several moods in the span of a minute, moving from comedy to chilling horror to cool rage, and while it’s absurd, it’s also completely effective.
In that scene, several objects around him seem to have been possessed. A deer head, a bookshelf, a lamp, and more all start laughing. Waving around. Ash, seemingly caught up in the bizarre events, starts to laugh as well. You laugh along with him as he cackles with the living objects, letting the absurdity of it all carry you along in a moment of humor. Then, you catch the shift in his eyes, and you think about the things that he’s seen and done. His girlfriend dead by his own hand. Twice. His own hand severed, yet still alive. Now, the building alive around him, and the dawning realization he can’t do anything about it. The horror in his eyes hits me hard, here. Then, when he has to fight, he slips out of his cracking mind to become deadly effective. Again, all in one minute.
You can’t tell me that this ability to shift through moods wouldn’t be effective in Resident Evil Village. Ethan has to deal with so many different things, shifting from horror about his family, comedy with his reattached hand, and eerie calm when facing unspeakable monsters. Ethan just comes across as dull when dealing with these moods, let alone with the rapid shifts between them that the game’s plot requires. He doesn’t appear to show any concern for what’s going on. But Bruce Campbell could do it, and do it well. In one minute, Campbell proves he’d be perfect steering Ethan through this bizarre world, bringing a believable, touching humanity to the inhuman, unbelievable events that run through an impossible number of emotions all at once. Let things get as wild, horrific, and weird as you want, but Campbell can reign it in and make you believe.
Bruce Campbell DLC, Capcom. Let’s see it happen.