Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

Genre: Horror and Romantic Drama Running Time: 1 hr. 48 min.

Release Date: February 5th, 2016 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Burr Steers Actors: Lily James, Sam Riley, Bella Heathcote, Ellie Bamber, Millie Brady, Suki Waterhouse, Douglas Booth, Sally Phillips, Charles Dance, Jack Huston, Lena Headey, Matt Smith, Emma Greenwell, Aisling Loftus

 


 

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ollowing a resurgence in zombie attacks across the English countryside, Colonel Darcy (Sam Riley) is dispatched to eradicate the threat. When his good friend Mr. Bingley (Douglas Booth) encounters the five Bennet daughters and falls in love with Jane (Bella Heathcote), the prettiest one, Darcy is introduced to Elizabeth (Lily James), a girl he inadvertently offends with his callous demeanor, despite becoming immediately enraptured by her beauty, fiery attitude – and ancient Chinese zombie-fighting techniques. As the socialites battle for each others’ hearts, the war for the very fate of Britain looms on the horizon, with the discovery of the existence of more advanced waves of the undead – capable of organizing and coordinating strikes.

The very idea of infusing Jane Austen’s classic, romantic tales of landed gentry with salivating zombie hordes is an innovative – and risky – way to attract audiences with varying interests in the same piece. Few will likely appreciate the middle-class melodrama and the head-stomping gore in equal measure; striking a balance between the incredibly disparate concepts is key, while attempting to thwart the waning of the novelty during a feature running time is no small task. Additionally, transitioning the Seth Grahame-Smith novel into a visual medium requires a separately challenging ordeal: namely, to deliver authenticity and farce in complementary proportions.

When the premise gets underway, it’s instantly apparent that zombie mayhem will be such a striking contrariety that it cannot be integrated smoothly; rather, it’s thrust into the viewer’s faces through jump scares and humorous violence (and talk of consuming human brains) that presumes to approach such nonsensical fantasy with a self-aware yet staunch seriousness. And it pays off. Many of the conversations are exchanged with straight faces and sincere deliveries, despite juxtaposing girls in corsets with the arming of daggers amidst ruffled lace, or poetic observations while the undead are hacked and slashed by sword-wielding maidens. The amusement is consistent and the silliness mitigated by a cast that refuses to give in to the riotousness of the script.

“Who would dare to leave a zombie head in the middle of the floor!” The polished aristocrats and mawkish melodrama of Austen’s original story pokes through the repetitive zombie skirmishes just enough to heighten the potency of what could have been a sad combination of “Sucker Punch” and “The Walking Dead.” The sharp repartee of Austen’s characters (teamed with the outfits, sets, dialogue, and dancing) transcends the mediocrity of merely alternating zombie bloodshed with costume drama routines (and Matt Smith’s effeminate quips, which provide a great deal of comic relief). The romantic fiction is still grand (with all of the “marrying without affection” conflicts, mind games of arrogance and conceit, and heaving bosoms), even if watered down by commonplace zombie warfare from time to time (especially with a rather restrictive PG-13 rating); there’s enough “Pride and Prejudice” left in this modernized thriller to look and feel like an earnest work.

– The Massie Twins

  • 7/10