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Forgotten password? Forgotten password Use the form below to recover your username and password. These mock Victorian furnishings are no accident—the Spencer Mansion's interior decoration connects to a long tradition that stretches back through Psycho 's taxidermy and Terra Incognita 's "furnished rooms of nonexistence" all the way to Walter Benjamin's examination of the bourgeois interior. Resident Evil 's setting is not simply a labyrinth for players to become lost in, it is also a house—and it is in that conflation of spaces that its horror lies.
The Labyrinth of Death
In it, the player walks the same L-shaped domestic corridor hundreds of times, locked in a cycle that becomes increasingly distorted. Like Resident Evil , it locates its horror in a space of constant transition between house and labyrinth. Its opening image, that of two cockroaches connected back-to-back, is a clear symbol for the horror of its setting: the familiar, only repeated, twisted, made suddenly strange.
Even the first radio broadcast to meet your ears charts this precarious balance, telling of a father murdering his daughter and wife without explanation: "This brutal killing took place while the family was gathered at home on a Sunday afternoon," says the announcer, marking the moment where the normal became the terrifying, where the space of the house yawned wide and became the endless internal struggle of the labyrinth. The family of George Trevor met an equally terrifying fate.
It is his daughter Lisa who makes her presence most felt in Resident Evil 's Gamecube remake, transformed as she is into a howling indestructible monster, masked with the torn faces of her tormentors. Unlike the ornate double-crossing and corporate espionage of the games' main storyline, the story of the Trevor family is tragically simple, and steeped in a kind of primal fear. Its addition is so important because it gives the Mansion an adopted family, one as twisted and filled with secrets as the building itself.
That this family is Trevor's, the architect, only further deepens the connection between the architecture and the narrative of the game, presenting a world where the game's enemies could even be thought to be expressions of the Mansion's perverse layout—like the Stanley Hotel in Kubrick's The Shining. Symbolically, the house and the family are intrinsically linked in art. But if the family is what lives at the centre of the logical, symmetrical and conceivable space of the house, what is it that lives at the centre of the labyrinth?
Mark Z. Danielewski's book House of Leaves is perhaps the strongest study of this question. A work that is itself a maze of footnotes, appendices and transcripts, it is constructed around the story of a photographer, Will Navidson, who finds a door in his house leading to an endless set of dark and empty rooms. Told through an ornate construction of essays and narration, in its later parts the book fragments, breaking itself down into pages dominated by blank spaces as Navidson goes ever deeper into the house. The experience of reading House of Leaves is that of navigating a space much like the Spencer Mansion or the P.
Notes are gathered, investigations made, and fear overcome as the irresistible descent into confusion and disorder continues page by page. By the time every page holds only a single broken sentence, each page turn becomes analogous to a step towards the heart of the labyrinth.
What Navidson finds there is ambiguous, but House of Leaves does present the reader with many possible interpretations of the minotaur that lurks at the center of its maze. George Trevor, searching for his family, also ends up lost in the maze of his own construction. It's a fitting end for a man obsessed with the hidden and the ornate, a true believer in the magic of the bourgeois interior. After all, if the house is the home of the family, the location of logic and the space in which life passes, the labyrinth must be the home of senseless, meaningless death.
Not an active, malicious force, but simply a process that exists in the absence of life and meaning.
The Resident Evil remake's strength lies in the plumbing of these depths and the loose articulation of their meaning. Few games have presented spaces of fear that so effectively explore how the domestic and the uncanny exist side by side with each other, and how the labyrinth itself presents a duplicity that entices and entrenches the explorer in equal measure. George Trevor's final words are a confirmation of that—the maker meeting himself at last, deep within the labyrinth:.
And another dead end. But even in the darkness something caught my eye. Carefully, I lit the last match, I had to see what it was. A grave! But deeply engraved into the stone was my name!
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