While Resident Evil 7 is a horror game with heavy doses of what the series is built on, its most prominent pillar might be the theme of family. Sure, Ethan is trapped with some crazy backwoods family that is out to murder him, even if he’s just looking for his wife who has been missing for three years, yet even the protagonist’s story is about family and the kind of love that can bind or tear us apart.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
After getting through the initial intense first hour of the game and finally sitting down to a nice (it’s a matter of perspective) meal with the Bakers, it clicked: Resident Evil 7 actually felt like a residence. It’s no wonder Resident Evil 7 feels like such a clean cut from previous entries in the series, even with Resident Evil 7 taking place within the same universe. Staying with the Bakers was a joy. Their home might be a horror show, but underneath it’s immediately obvious that things weren’t always this way for the Baker household. It only becomes more obvious as Ethan makes his way through this home, torn between worlds.
Something evil this way comes
The level of curiosity about the Bakers soon began to outweigh my desire to escape the home. The Baker property is a robust size and the history of the residence can be seen everywhere. From the Old House that Marguerite torments Ethan in, to the Guest House where Ethan first sneaks on to the property. Family photos are seen throughout the residence, knick-knacks and tchotchkes alike. The furniture that occupies these spaces even has a lived-in feel; it’s easy to see the Bakers occupying any of these rooms and using them to their appropriate desire. Oh, how different things could have been for Ethan if he’d only met the Bakers before they became corrupted, murderous puppets for a bio-weapon.
What’s more, aside from wanting to become intimately involved within the Bakers lives (guess Eveline isn’t the only one), it’s hard not to feel deeply for the situation that has befallen them. To jump forward quite a bit, when Ethan has his hallucination sit down with Jack, it’s heartbreaking. Jack is a good man and to see the evil that has consumed him only increases the burden of having killed what seemed like such a gentle man. Jack speaks to Ethan with such conviction of love for his family and the horrors they’ve become. He is torn between worlds, being a prisoner of his own mind, trying to look out for his family and creating this new sinister version of the household he feels responsible for. Jack being the father figure of the household is powerless to stop what has become and can only wait for someone to release the Bakers from their torment.
As for Marguerite, if only more was known. She obviously was the matriarch of the family, but it’s hard to get a read on who she was as a person with so little to go on. Photos can be found throughout the home and it seems for the most part she played the loving housewife to a family she deeply adored. Personally, she seemed calm, just going off what was seen. There is one picture in particular of Marguerite and Jack that is so inviting. They look nothing but kind. While seeming like she had a quiet demeanor, she most certainly had a mother’s intuition. When the family began to see hallucinations, Marguerite made sure to see a doctor, of course, finding out a mold had infected her brain and most likely that of her loved ones.
Lucas might be the cherry-on-top, being hands down the most unexpected character. While it was reminiscent of Saw, Lucas is captivating in a way all his own. He really sells it. On top of an outstanding performance, his backstory is unfortunate even before evil befalls this family. Discovering that Lucas had a brilliant mind that at the same time was addled by some sort of mental instability is astounding. As with the many journals found throughout the Baker residence, it’s revealed just how unstable Lucas was before Eveline and Mia’s arrival. It almost seems appropriate for him to have gone down such a path. Finding that balance of genius and psychotic that is so horrifying.
While not much is known about Zoe, needless to say, she continues the Baker trend of being whip-smart. She was the one to discover a vaccine for herself after all and immediately began to understand Eveline had something to do with the strange goings on within the family. Zoe might have been the lifeline for Ethan to navigate and make it out of the Baker residence, but even here there might be more. She obviously fit in to this same dynamic of family, and while maybe not coming off as such a prominent member, it doesn’t take too much imagination seeing how she fit in. Maybe she was more of the introvert of the family, happy to stay close to those she loved, while doing her own thing around the property. Possibly staying close for Lucas, understanding that he wasn’t all there and would need all the help he could get.
The Other Family
Remember the point in the game where you find out that Eveline is a Bio-weapon that just wanted a family too? Not only was this mind-blowing, but it also confirmed everything this game was offering: family. So to give a quick run-down before tying this all off, there are three families in this game: the lovable-at-first but psychotic Bakers, Mia and Ethan’s union as wife & husband, and Eveline wanting literally anyone around her to be her family. Boom. Just love those who you rear or were reared by.
Eveline’s story isn’t particularly tragic, being bio-engineered death and all, but the fact that she was to take the form of a 10-year-old girl made possible the feelings manifested within her. A deep seeded need for nurture/love, and while not fully understanding what that meant, maybe because she was automatically a 10-year-old and didn’t have the growth of mind that most children will receive while being reared by a guardian figure in their life, this lead to her ultimate psychotic narcissistic behavior.
What’s more interesting is Eveline’s desire to have a family that keeps getting bigger. It’s made clear that she at first only cared about Mia and Alan, her primary caretakers in transporting her, but when Alan began to see Eveline become unstable, she immediately dispatches with him, latching on even more fixedly to Mia as a Mother figure. Of course, over the next three years her desire to have family only roots itself deeper in Eveline’s mind. Hence, the transformation of the Bakers which can’t even satiate her appetite for family – ultimately leading to using Mia to reach out to Ethan so she can have the father figure she so desires. Eveline is as much a child as she is a being who wants the structure that family brings, while not fully understanding that structure herself. Even more disheartening is that Eveline could probably never understand just what makes family so binding.
Relationship comes in many forms, but a family dynamic is in a way a forced relationship. Not in a bad way, but for most in a way that means there are certain people in our lives that we are stuck with no matter what. These are the blood ties. The people in our lives we are literally connected too. The people that we must call on certain days or will end up seeing multiple times in a year because they are the ones who reared us and saw us through some of the most exceptional times in our lives, for good or bad.
Family is a bound that cannot be mimicked and this is not discounting a number of different dynamics. Resident Evil 7 is a game about family to the core, and in such a unique way. It shows the many different facets of what makes a family. Whether it be by blood, by finding someone we love or trying to fill a gap that seems to be in our lives. Family is a naturally strong desire, family is a place to call home, family are those that drive us mad, yet we can’t help but love unconditionally. So, before ultimately trying to escape the Bakers, try and understand who they were as people first. Even if they are crazy murder-puppets, they still maintain the dynamic.