You don’t remember zombies being in Jane Austen‘s version of Pride and Prejudice? That’s because the two had nothing to do with each other until 2007 when Seth Grahame-Smith wrote a book named Pride Prejudice and Zombies. He kept a huge percentage of the original text and infused it with some zombie lore and infestation and BOOM, a New York Times Bestseller was born.
Today a film version of the book is released and while it is a far cry from other films in theaters now, it does deliver on it’s name. Viewers will find the elaborate empire-waist dresses, tightly wound hairstyles and attitudes that they desire from the Regency era while they watch their beloved characters battle zombies with aplomb.
The film steps further away from the original Austen text than the book that it is based on but it does still include the basic plot, mores and side characters. The official synopsis reads:
In the 19th century, a mysterious plague turns the English countryside into a war zone. No one is safe as the dead come back to life to terrorize the land. Fate leads Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James), a master of martial arts and weaponry, to join forces with Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley), a handsome but arrogant gentleman. Elizabeth can’t stand Darcy, but respects his skills as a zombie killer. Casting aside their personal differences, they unite on the blood-soaked battlefield to save their country.
Chances are that the only way Austen fans will be in attendance of the film is if they are willing to roll with the ludicrous premise of a zombie infested 19th century England, so they will likely be satisfied with the nods to the original story. Zombie fans in attendance will also be appeased with the high end fighting techniques of the Bennet sisters and the multiple and diverse zombie attacks and battles. The choreography of the Bennet sisters battle techniques is titular and thrilling. The setting and scenery are darker and more damp than usually portrayed which adds to the mood for the viewer.
James and Riley are satisfactory, though not exception in their portrayals of Bennet and Darcy. The real stand out performance in the film comes from Matt Smith as Mr. Collins. He chooses to play the role as a fumbling, clumsy and completely off-putting leech which instantly inflates the humor in the sometimes dry scenes. Although his performance is cartoon like, it serves a nice reprise from the stiffens of the other characters.
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
Director: Burr Steers
Writer: Burr Steers
Starring: Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston, Matt Smith
Runtime: 108 minutes
Release date: February 5, 2016
MPAA rating: PG-13