What do you get when you attempt to mix a Jane Austen classic with a little bit of The Walking Dead?
Director: Burr Steers
Writer: Burr Steers
Stars: Lily James, Sam Riley, Bella Heathcote, Ellie Bamber, Millie Brady Suki Waterhouse, Douglas Booth, Sally Phillips, Charles Dance, Jack Huston, Lena Headey, Matt Smith
Based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, who in turn, took the much beloved Austen romance and added some zombies because why in the hell not. There is nothing saying a girl can’t love a little horror with her romance. A disease came to England from abroad infecting the citizens with the need to feast on the brains of the living and has decimated the population. Most of those who survived so far have held up in their country homes and learned martial arts while the army does their best to contain the zombies to London. The Bennet family must find a way to marry off their five daughters to good families while fighting the zombie horde.
I say a little bit of The Walking Dead is mixed in there because there is not nearly as much zombie action as I was hoping. There is enough fighting and gore so that the ladies wanting to see a horror/romance can bring a male friend or significant other and he won’t end up snoring. There is a section in the middle that drags due to lack of zombie killings and no real advancement of the romance. And that whole PG-13 horror movie dullness. The movie can’t get as scary as it could be leaving me a little disappointed.
This is the second adaptation of a Grahame-Smith novel. The first one was Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I haven’t read any of his books so I can’t say for sure if they are enjoyable or not, but I have heard good things about the satire nature of his concepts. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter failed as a movie because it seemed everyone forgot it was actually supposed to be a parody of history, but thankfully Pride & Prejudice & Zombies succeeds in blending the strange humor of the situation and the romantic story of Lizzie Bennet and Mr. Darcy.
There is a whole subplot about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse that is never really developed. Also someone pops up as a zombie Antichrist towards the end and it feels shoehorned in for the sake of the movie having an overall bad guy. But yeah, the strange premise actually works. The idea of no real disease control in that time period mixed with the fact that most people had to walk in open fields or the woods wherever they went makes for a perfect opening for the horror staple to come and wreak havoc.
James makes for a great Lizzie Bennet. Most women love second eldest Bennet sister because she is what we all wish we could be; smart, independent, and strong. James shows off that she could be more than just a pretty face and makes us believe Lizzie would be a badass zombie hunter. To add on to the girl-power fun, Kitty (Waterhouse) and Lydia (Bamber) are still quite silly and Jane (Heathcote) and Mary (Brady) are still very shy as they are in Austen’s novel, but they at least take their training seriously and are good hunters themselves. Matt Smith takes Mr. Collins to a whole new level by playing the wannabe suitor as a obliviously clumsy, coward. His comedic timing adds a wonderful new layer to the movie and makes me miss him as The Doctor.
I was none too fond of Riley and Booth as Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley. Both men look like they wandered onto the set from a boy band video shoot and did little to convince me they are the feared military zombie hunters their two characters are supposed to be. The Bennet sisters and Mr. Collins looked like they could have easily kicked their asses. Give me Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy and just about anyone else as Mr. Bingley any day.
Overall I think what allowed for me to enjoy the movie experience is I went in with low expectations and an open mind about the ridiculously creative premise. It is nice to see Hollywood catching up to the fact that women can like genre blending as well. If Pride & Prejudice & Zombies makes a decent profit at the box-office, hopefully it can inspire more original genre blending movies for women.
3 ½ out of 5 stars