I am a lover of classical literature, and especially, of the romantic fictions of author Jane Austen. But, as anyone who follows my reviews of “The Walking Dead” are quite aware of, I live and breathe zombies. I recently had the chance to see Pride and Prejudice and Zombies while on vacation with my family. Did the film live up to my expectations? Find out after the jump.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a 2016 comedy horror based on the 2009 novel of the same name by Seth Grahame-Smith. The film is a parody of Jane Austen’s 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice and is directed by Burr Steers and stars Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston, Bella Heathcote, Douglas Booth, Matt Smith, Charles Dance and Lena Headley.
The zombie apocalypse has already been in progress for some time at the start of the film, but although most of England has been walled off from the invading hordes, life goes on as normal for the Bennet family. The Bennet sisters, Elizabeth (Lily James), Jane (Bella Heathcote), Kitty (Suki Waterhouse), Lydia (Ellie Bamber) and, Mary (Millie Brady) are everything you’d expect in young, beautiful, Victorian maidens, but there is nothing fragile about these sisters. Their father (Charles Dance), who could only afford to send his daughters to China as compared to wealthier families sending their children to Japan, makes sure that they return as experts in the art of weaponry and martial arts.
With so many daughters in the home, Mrs. Bennet (Sally Phillips), following the social mores of 19th century England, is in a rush to have her daughters married off because, as she explains it, if their father dies before they are married, the next Bennett male could take over their fortune and leave the girls destitute, which I find to be more horrible than fighting zombies. But, that’s what happened back in those days. In fact, a distant cousin who would inherit the Bennett wealth if Papa Bennett died, Parson Collins, played by one of my favorite Doctor Who’s (Matt Smith), offers to marry Elizabeth. His insistence that she give up her weapons squashes any chance of a marriage with the frisky Elizabeth.
While fighting a few stray zombies here and there, news reaches the Bennett family about a possible suiter for elder sister Jane. There is to be a ball and the sisters prepare their best finery to attend the ball given by the very wealthy Bingley family. They are looking for a suitable mate for the young Bingley (Douglas Booth). At the ball, Bingley is immediately smitten with Jane and, after the sisters kick royal butt on the party crashing zombies, Bingley’s friend Darcy (Sam Riley) finds himself falling for Elizabeth.
I have to admit that I enjoyed this version of the apocalypse. Not all the zombies are brain dead. Some are able to carry on conversations, although with much stammering.
Elizabeth meets Mr. Wickham (Jack Huston) a handsome soldier and enemy of Darcy, who takes a liking to Elizabeth, then takes her to a church outside of London where zombies are kept from going completely savage by a steady diet of pigs’ brains.
I’m not sure if Jane Austin is turning in her grave with the remake of her romantic novel, but I’m guessing, by what I’ve learned of this beloved author, that she would probably be okay with it. She was way ahead of her time and would have loved a good zombie story.
Pride and Prejudice was a story about family and about true love and, Lily James and Sam Phillips drive it home, even if their love for each other had to take a back seat to the apocalypse. I loved Lena Headey’s portrayal of Darcy’s aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh. She played the female zombie killer with the same sharp wit as she does her Cersei Lannister on HBO’s Game of Thrones.
If you’re looking for classic literature, then read Jane’s book, but if you want a fun night out with friends, this movie is just campy enough to please your sense and sensibilities. Go for it.