Generally speaking, fear is an emotion that, in horror, is experienced by the protagonist and audience, not the characters (or creatures, as the case may be) whose entire purpose it is to be scary. For the most part, the monsters in Resident Evil Village fulfill their scaring duties without any problem—the game’s first boss, Lady Dimitrescu, stalks through her castle while booming threats and brandishing her long claws, moving at the kind of leisurely pace that makes it clear she isn’t afraid of you at all.
And then there’s Moreau.
Moreau, the half-fish, half-man mutant who serves as the game’s third boss, has, after four full playthroughs, become my favorite character in the game. He certainly looks scary—he wears a crown of bones and has a fleshy mass of giant eyes, tentacles, and stunted limbs growing out of his back—but, most of the time, he’s kind of a wimp. He’s easily cowed by the other monsters around him, and his primary concerns are making his “mother” happy and avoiding his siblings’ ridicule. Sure, Moreau has a few moments of confidence—poking at the protagonist, Ethan, while he’s tied up, boasting about his ability to create a sort of fungus to trap him—but it’s no coincidence that those beats also involve the player being trapped or incapacitated in some way. When that’s not the case, Moreau seems, at worst, to be on the verge of tears, and at best, incredibly anxious about everything around him.
In a way, his behavior almost makes him more relatable than the average monster—constant anxiety is also my mode of dealing with life, let alone a horror video game. The first time Ethan meets Moreau one on one, he’s so engrossed in watching TV that he doesn’t notice Ethan stealing a key object from a table behind him. The scene’s concept art (included within the game’s special features) offers a little elaboration, as the caption explains that Moreau “watches old romance movies and falls into melancholy,” as well as adding the tidbit, “He also loves eating cheese.” Honestly, same. And who among us can say any different?
That’s not to say that Moreau is really a sympathetic character—reading his diary entries reveals that he’s been performing gruesome experiments on the villagers. But he’s certainly a change from the norm of uncomplicatedly evil and confident horror game villains, as his tendency to vomit seems to be equal parts because of his mutation and because of nerves. On top of that, he actually seems to take the protagonist’s insults personally (when Ethan calls him pathetic, Moreau responds, “Don’t be cruel!”), and spends most of his boss battle wailing for help. It’s hard to imagine Freddy Krueger or Dracula behaving in the same way.*
Dimitrescu may be the most crush-worthy villain in Resident Evil Village, and the giant baby (if you know, you know) may be its most nightmare-inducing, but Moreau shouldn’t be ruled out as one of the game’s best characters. He’s fascinating as a villain who comes across as hapless rather than malicious, and he’s even surprisingly funny, given his penchant for falling into depression after watching fictional characters falling in love, all while overloading on snacks instead of having a real meal. Maybe a part of my love for Moreau is projection, but there’s no denying that Resident Evil Village has a memorable stable of villains, with distinct personalities, styles, and modes of combat, and that Moreau is no exception. (Despite the fact that he ultimately turns into a giant fish, battling Moreau requires being quick rather than just being strong.) With so many colorful characters, it’s easy for a wimp like Moreau to get shunted into the shadows, but he deserves a little appreciation. Of a bunch of monsters, he seems to be the most human at heart.
Correction, May 19, 2021: This post originally misspelled Freddy Krueger’s last name.