12.17.12

The hysterically incongruous dialogue of Resident Evil 2

At the beginning of Resident Evil 2, Leon, the game’s hero, encounters a pile of butchered bodies near the entrance to the Raccoon City Police Station. As you explore the prerendered, fixed-camera scene, one of hundreds in the first few RE games, you have the option to interact with a bank of phones near the corpses.

“Nothing to care about,” Leon says, the bodies at his feet. You didn’t notice how weird this was as a kid; now, you might laugh at such a gamey disconnect between the horror on screen and Leon’s blasé reaction.

That’s what David Shuff did: he laughed. Then the Brooklyn video editor took dozens of photos, documenting the hysterical incongruity between a zombie apocalypse and two of the most apparently stoic humans ever. The result isn't just funny; it's occasionally profound.

“After watching some French cinema recently,” Shuff says, “they sounded like a depressed black and white guy smoking a cigarette.”

So Leon does, surveying the catastrophic crash of a helicopter and deadpanning, “both the helicopter and the door are destroyed.” So Jill does, upon encountering a conspicuously monstrous insect egg and informing us helpfully that “it is a huge egg.”

Shuff, who was playing through the game as part of a local “scary games club,” says that he recently tried to play through Resident Evil 3 to capture the same dynamic, and was unsuccessful.

“Something just wasn’t clicking,” he says. “Resident Evil 2 is just a really special game."