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A Village of Abuse: The Subtext of Resident Evil 8

Ethan enters the title location in Resident Evil Village

Much like Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil Village takes the player on a gonzo horror train ride that ranges from comically absurd to downright frighting. Despite the erratic pendulum swinging tones and gameplay aspects, Village is engaging because of its potent subtext that fundamentally challenges the player.

Set 3 years after the events of Resident Evil 7, Village finds Ethan Winters and Mia Winters settled in Europe with a baby girl called Rose. Ethan finds himself under the service of the series’s veteran, Chris Redfield. However, this seemingly peaceful existence is disturbed when Redfield and his men turn up to kill Mia, kidnap Rose, and leave Ethan in a bewildered state. Feeling a great sense of loss and helplessness, Ethan stumbles and finds himself in a village. Through many challenges, including Four Lords, a sizeable amount of Lycans, and three thirsty vampire ladies, Ethan battles to get his daughter back.

The wellspring for this source of subtext comes from the game’s central antagonist, Mother Miranda. In typical horror fashion, the game’s first allusion to her comes from a harbinger, who forebodingly says, “Since Mother Miranda brought {Rose} to the village, we have fallen into darkness!” This line along with another one delivered by one of the villagers, “It doesn’t make any sense. Mother Miranda has always protected us,” and Ethan stumbling upon Miranda killing an elderly man paints the picture of a maternal figure who does not care for the people she presides over.

Mother Miranda meeting with the Four Lords of Resident Evil Village

While the introductory section gives us a sketch of Miranda as a cruel figure who has been deified to a large extent, Ethan’s encounter with Miranda and the Four Lords of the village paints the villain in much more insidious colors. The Four Lords in question are Lady Dimitrescu (a very tall and aristocratic vampire), Heisenberg (a southern gentleman with psychic powers), Salvatore Moreau (a grotesque Quasimodo-esque figure), and Donna Beneviento (a ghostly figure who speaks through her puppet, Angie).

The scene of the Four Lords and Mother Miranda plays like a darkly comic family squabble in which Lady Dimitrescu and Heisenberg make pitches for how they want to torture and ultimately kill Ethan. With this scene, it’s clear Miranda has created a faux family dynamic in which every member has a say and voice. However, as the game goes along, we find out that this seeming quint and strange family is built upon a foundation of abuse.

The first instance of this comes from the back story that’s spelled out through various documents that the player finds during their time at Castle Dimitrescu. The most important one is one that speaks of observations after a treatment. The note is vague on the treatment, however, the after effects, which comprise of insects eating away at the flesh of three young women are harrowing, to say the least. The conclusion of the treatment results in “the mass of insects turning into human bodies.” These human bodies are named and assigned the role of Lady Dimitrescu’s three vampiric daughters.

Lady D and her three vampire daughters.

The note is important in illustrating how Mother Miranda has created a cycle of abuse. Just like she experimented on Dimitrescu, so has the good Lady D done so on three unsuspecting women. They both mirror one another insofar as wanting to create a faux family dynamic by ways of abuse. With this in mind, Dimitrescu sees herself as the favorite of Mother Miranda and above her siblings.

In contrast to the rest of the Lords, Moreau appears to be the one who’s not directly malicious or partakes in the established cycle of abuse that some of his other siblings indulge in. Instead, in the fleeting encounters players have of him, he’s often quite pitiful as someone who bemoans his existence and calls out for parental attention. Lines such as “It’s not fair” and “I’ll make you proud, Mother. Watch Me!” illustrate this desperate sense of approval from an ultimately false and neglectful mother figure.

In many ways, Moreau mirrors the villagers at the beginning of the game who look to Mother Miranda as a maternal figure, meant to guide them out of the dark but is ironically the reason they’re in it in the first place.

Heisenberg attempts to make a deal with Ethan Winters.

The final family member is Heisenberg, who pointedly says to Ethan, “I’m not like my siblings. I want nothing more than to be free of that bitch.” Heisenberg acknowledges the abuse and humiliation, he’s undergone under Mother Miranda. But rather than put up with it, he wants to join forces with Ethan and Rose to take her down. With allusions to being put in the village itself, Heisenberg almost becomes a stand-in for the community of the village who placed their faith in Miranda, and now feel betrayed and angry at her.

While Heisenberg does not indulge in the same cycle of violence as Lady D, he does ironically, inherit her trait of corrupting people for her own ends. It’s an irony in a Darwinian game between his siblings that Heisenberg can’t ultimately escape. Instead, he’s consumed by it until he must feel the need to use Ethan and Rose for his own selfish and ultimately egotistical ends.

The ultimate irony of Mother Miranda is that she plans to revive her centuries-lost daughter using Rose as a conduit. Her experiments to get to that point have involved creating a surrogate family, that she uses as pawns and servants. Whether it’s through corrupting or transforming others, Miranda’s mark on Village and what it says about neglect, cycles of abuse, and the sadistic irony of putting faith in a higher power are potent and terrifying.


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  1. Always good to see another person who hasn’t played the game commenting on the game.

    The elderly man in the beginning is killed by lycan. Mother Miranda kills Iulian, who is not elderly and I’m not sure where you’d get that.

    Lady Dimitrescu is NOT a vampire. She has vampire like features, but she is NOT a vampire. Neither are her daughters.

    Heisenberg is NOT southern, and he doesn’t have psychic powers – he has electromagnetic powers. He controls metal, not just anything.

    Moreau did experiments on villagers, so yes, he contributed. He has diaries stating how he put “Cadou in their tummies”, as well as putting Cadou in people and injecting wolf blood into them alongside that.

    Donna would theoretically be the only one that didn’t participate… but she did in a way as well, with her hallucinogenic flowers. She tried to use them in a sympathetic way at first, but clearly had the power to make those hallucinations frightening. Also – she’s not a ghost. Although her area is meant to represent Victorian ghost stories… she herself is not a ghost nor has anything to do with ghosts.

    Nothing about wanting to escape from a toxic, abusive parent – something I’ve personally been involved in – is selfish or egotistical. While I’m not condoning the way Heisenberg went about it, nothing he did is on the scale of anyone else. He experimented on corpses, NEVER living people. And in the end, Rose used her powers on Mother Miranda ANYWAY… so Ethan’s refusal of him makes little to no sense, aside from the way Heisenberg framed it, which yes, would have turned any parent off. But please don’t compare Heisenberg to Mother Miranda, or even any of his siblings. He was trying, desperately, to escape the cycle the only way he knew how – they weren’t.

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Written by Sartaj Singh

Notes from a distant observer:

“Sartaj is a very eccentric fellow with a penchant for hats. He likes watching films and writes about them in great analytical detail. He has an MA degree in Philosophy and has been known to wear Mickey Mouse ears on his birthday.”

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