Resident Evil is full of big personalities. The franchise has brought fans countless memorable characters, from Chris Redfield to Resident Evil 4’s iconic merchant. All of those characters sit in the towering shadow of the series’ new star, Lady Dimitrescu.
The 9-foot-tall vampire became an instant phenomenon when she first popped up in a trailer for Resident Evil Village in January. Capcom immediately put her at the front and center of the game’s marketing efforts, propelling her to meme status. With Resident Evil Village out now, players are finally getting a chance to meet a character they’ve long been obsessing over.
Now that her full story is out, Digital Trends spoke to Resident Evil director Morimasa Sato about the fan reaction, how she fits into the new game’s horror “theme park” vision, and whether or not we’ll see her again soon.
A big personality
Lady Dimitrescu made her grand entrance on January 15 when Capcom released a teaser for the first of its Resident Evil showcase events. Despite only appearing for a few seconds, the character’s popularity spread like wildfire. Some fans spun up fan art at record speed, while others simply wanted her to step on them.
That was music to the team’s ears. Sato says that the reaction was exactly what the Resident Evil team always hopes to accomplish with its characters.
“We were pleasantly surprised by the positive reaction to Lady Dimitrescu from all over the world, young and old, men and women,” Sato tells Digital Trends. “It’s always our intention to create memorable and impactful characters and it’s very validating when the characters leave such a strong positive impression on so many players.”
For a while, it seemed like Lady Dimitrescu would be the main villain of Resident Evil Village. Her role isn’t quite so big in the final version. She acts as the game’s first real boss, with her castle taking up the first fourth of the game. In total, players get around two hours of heaven with Lady Dimitrescu. Sato says that by the time the reaction to her hit, it was too late to increase her screen time.
“By the time we debuted Lady Dimitrescu in January, her character and role in the game was already very well-developed,” says Sato. “As such, we did not veer from the course we were on even after seeing how everyone reacted to her. In fact, the positive feedback we received gave us encouragement that we were onto something very special with this character, and the team felt very good about that.”
Despite not having the development time to expand her role, Sato says the team wouldn’t have done anything differently. What we get in Resident Evil Village was always going to be the full package.
Theme park of horror
Lady Dimitrescu is particularly interesting in the full context of the final game. At first, it was a little surprising to see an extravagant vampire noble in the same breath as terrifying werewolves. It all makes a lot more sense now in a game that’s an anthology of horror movie send-ups.
“Resident Evil Village was designed to be like a diverse “theme park” of horror, with very distinct styles of horror where fans can experience the thrill of one type of horror, then move onto the next,” says Sato. “This includes Heisenberg’s massive underground factory, Moreau’s reservoir, Beneviento’s mansion and, of course, Castle Dimitrescu. Lady Dimitrescu, her daughters, and their stronghold castle are very different from the other enemies Ethan encounters.”
Sato describes the entire Dimitrescu family in terms of gothic horror tropes, pointing out that delicate balance of elegance and danger. For Lady Dimitrescu herself, the inspiration was a little more eclectic.
“When the team started developing the character of Lady Dimitrescu, our guiding concept was one of a “bewitching” character who is both beautiful and dangerous,” says Sato. “Our art director, Tomonori Takano, has said he drew inspirations from many places, including Anjelica Huston’s portrayal of Morticia Addams from The Addams Family, and from nonfictional sources such as Elizabeth Báthory, a European noblewoman who is thought to have murdered hundreds of people.”
Both of those inspirations certainly come through in the final product. Despite being a stone-cold killer with Wolverine claws, Lady Dimitrescu is the kind of threat players don’t want to look away from. If Nemesis had us running for our lives, Lady Dimitrescu has us scrambling for a vantage point where we can watch her saunter around the castle at a safe distance.
Will Lady Dimitrescu return?
Judging by how the story wraps up in Resident Evil Village, it doesn’t seem like there’s room for Lady Dimitrescu in a sequel. A potential Resident Evil 9 will likely be moving away from the creepy European town to focus more on the intriguing lore introduced in the game’s finale. Even the most iconic Resident Evil monsters tend to be a “one-and-done” deal.
Still, Sato says there’s hope for Lady Dimitrescu fans who are itching for more.
“Lady Dimitrescu has certainly played her part in Ethan’s journey in Resident Evil Village and has already become one of the title’s most popular characters,” says Sato. “The feedback to Lady Dimitrescu has been overwhelmingly positive, and we take the community’s feedback to heart.
“We never rule anything out in the world of Resident Evil!”