Towards the end of this month, I was racking my mind for another subject for the monthly musing after completing my first effort. I suddenly realised the moment I felt a fear that caught me off guard in a certain part of a game. That game was Resident Evil: Code Veronica X
I got the game early for my PS2, and since I had played the first three main incarnations of the series, I knew what to expect. I was accustomed to the dogs jumping through the windows, and defending against lickers at close range. However, nothing prepared me for the effect of a particular cut-scene, one that didn�t have the same power or effect across the whole of the series�
To recap, Clare Redfield escaped the zombie-ravaged Racoon City in the second game. Trying to find out more information about the Umbrella Corporation (the group responsible for the virus that turned people undead), she is captured and imprisoned on an island.
Clare escapes, only to discover the zombies are alive and kicking, or undead and grasping if you prefer. Fighting her away across the island, she breaks into a building to discover a room with a film projector�
You have the option of walking up to the projector and turning it on. If you do so, you witness a short film of two children interacting with a butterfly and group of ants.
The first time I saw this, it creeped me out. So much so, that when I had to play through the scene again, I decided to skip it. I was that
put off with it. The way the kids acted and looked towards the camera was unsettling in a hugely intimidating way.
So you�ve just witnessed the video for yourself and thinking Batthink, what a wuss. That�s not scary
. I guess you�ve got your opinion, and I guess everybody is different in what they consider scary, but to explain my point of view, I�d like to point out the first reason why this gives me �the fear�;
1. If It�s In The Game�
If you are one of the few people that haven�t found this fear-inducing, then that is probably because you didn�t consider that you had to play the game to see it. Yes, it�s very easy nowadays to load up a video of a cut-scene over the internet. You should spare a thought for those that have to fight through zombie-hordes and other genetic beasties and then come across it
. I was pacing about with Clare, holding my breath as I entered every door, and speeding past the undead in a desperate effort to preserve dwindling ammunition. I was still in a state of trepidation once I entered the room with the projector, and once I got the heroine to play it, boy, did I get a surprise.
From the director�s point of view, a scare is best achieved when you least expect it, but here, if you crank up the tension beforehand, you keep your audience alert and primed to jump, wince or give them something to think about for quite a while afterwards. Believe me, I was suckered.
2. Unsettling Siblings
Easily the major cause of this fear, the siblings act normally, yet so unnaturally
. It could be a result of poor CGI techniques, but I don�t care. Alexia�s bored face stared drowsily at whoever is holding the camera, but that�s not what I was thinking; she was staring at me
. If you don�t like making eye-contact, then you are going to be crapping yourself. I can�t always do it in public places in real-life, because I prefer the passengers on the train (or wherever they are) not to notice that I�m paying attention to them in some way. When they do, I tend to turn away, hoping that they didn�t spot me, giving them an impression that I was spying on them for some reason. It is the simple fear of being looked at, regardless of whether the individual is real or not, that seems to be effective at unsettling us.
The insects featured come a distant second to those two, and that�s saying something. As Alfred is plucking out the wings and watching the ants crowd around the helpless body, you can sense an inquisitiveness, and also a cruelty from him. Remember that youngsters or teens that start gassing butterflies in jars or experimenting on their pets tend to develop violent behaviour in later life. Also, I was aware of the fact that either one or both of these individuals are on the same island with me
. Imagination goes into overdrive; they�re here! Oh man, I wouldn�t want to bump into them�wherever they are�
The end of the video shows a haunting act of togetherness between the two children. It looks so unreal, but it does provide a telling hint to the closeness of the two�meaning that the player may be expecting to bump into both of them, rather than one� and the last thing I wanted to feel is outnumbered�
3. You Say It Best�
One of the more crucial reasons why this video is scary to me is the vital omission of a series trademark. Notice that throughout the whole video, nothing is said between anyone there
. You�ve just got a whirring of the projector, the crackle of film and some gentle music, as if a music box was playing. The two children act out what they are doing, without mouthing anything.
Why is this so weird? Think back to the first Resident Evil, and remember the lines of dialogue. �No�don�t open� that door!�, ��master of unlocking� and �Jill sandwich� come to mind. Lines of script like this removed a lot of the tension out of the game, and gave a B-movie feel to it. If the above video was performed in the same manner, the fear would be gone. Silly giggles, phoned-in narration and anything else would have ruined it.
4. A View To A Kill
If anything, the viewpoint is uncomfortable too. I notice how close the camera is to Alexia�s face, to the breaking of the wings and the final, lingering shot of them looking blankly at each other. Exactly who is doing the filming? The parents? Another family member, like another brother? A friend, maybe? We�ll never know, but who would choose to keep a childhood video like this? It kinda feels voyeuristic and personal to me, all the same.
Finally, in a roundabout way to the first and second issues with the video, I was expecting something bad to happen, particularly once the cut-scene ended. The memory of the event was impressed immediately upon me, and I felt continuing in the game initially oppressive. What if I bumped into one of those two when I open the next door? Are any of the characters standing behind me right now, as the film stopped? Is the butterfly-scene a clue to what they�ll try to do to me?
The �what ifs� of the game have been primarily bought up over the years because of those very same incidences in the second paragraph. I jumped because of the dog leaping through the window. I jumped when a licker fell through a sky-light when I least expected to find a monster in that room. In meeting these frightening situations, I overcame them, only to inherit the dread of knowing that I could be shocked out of my comfort zone in the next games, at any time. In spite of my love for the survival horror-genre, I keep wondering where the next fright is going to come from. I am guarding myself for the next electric shock that will travel down the side of my head whenever something so horrible appears.
Let�s face it. There�s no point in protecting myself. It will happen. I just never know when. This video is proof of that to me.