It's difficult to not chuckle when hearing the title Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It's just sort of ridiculous right? But here's the real crazy thing, as much as we might find humor in that title and the idea of mixing zombies with Jane Austen, the actual film takes itself deadly serious. Before you cry fowl you should know that is the best part about this period piece zombie flick because if it had played it for laughs it would have fallen apart at the seams. Read the full review after the break.
Review Vital Stats:
Projector Type: 2D Digital
Film Rating: PG-13
Film Runtime: 1 hr 40 min
Studio: Sony Pictures
Release Date: February 5, 2016
Loves: Everything with zombies
Likes: Horror movies, period dramas, mixing contrasting genres with one another
Neutral: Talking zombies (when used in a serious manner)
Hates: There could have been a little bit more zombie action
What other classic novel could use some zombies?: I would really like to see To Kill A Mockingbird and Zombies.
|Romance is in the air...and the stench of the undead.|
Anyone familiar with Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice should find this slight departure from the original something of a curiosity. Why integrate horror elements into one of literature's most celebrated stories? Well the simple answer to that is zombies. After experiencing a huge surge in popularity over a decade ago, the prolific undead have found their way into nearly every form of media that exists and now we find them taking over the Victorian age. That's the great thing about zombies though, they fit into just about any setting or genre imaginable. Whether it be a romantic comedy (Life After Beth/Warm Bodies), a buddy cop flick (Dead Heat), an action/adventure (World War Z) or Sci-fi (Last Days on Mars), Zombies seem to fit like a glove.
|These zombies are a bit different than the more traditional flesh eaters.|
The story hasn't been changed at all. Except for the inclusion of zombies, PPZ features all the same characters, plot points and romantic entanglements that made Austen's novel such a beloved classic. The Bennet family is still the focal point with the five sisters, Elizabeth (Lily James), Jane (Bella Heathcote), Catherine (Suki Waterhouse), Caroline (Emma Greenwell) and Lydia (Ellie Bamber) looking for love before their family estate is taken away from them if their father (Charles Dance) were to die before they are wed. Their gentlemen callers Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley), Mr. Bingley (Douglas Booth), Mr. Wickham (Jack Houston) and Mr. Collins (Matt Smith) are still present and accounted for as are other key characters such as Lady Catherine de Bourgh (Lena Heady).
|Even the women have been trained in the martial arts.|
Speaking of the zombies, this is perhaps the one point of contention some might take with the film. As with all iconic horror characters the zombie has so many different mythologies and rules tied to it anymore that it is difficult to know what makes a zombie an actual zombie anymore. Taking a queue from the classic 80's horror/comedy Return of the Living Dead, PPZ features zombies that talk. Yes, you read that right. These zombies not only talk though, they plan, scheme and can even be reasoned with. They also have an endless appetite for human brains which is another page taken from Return of the Living Dead, but in an interesting twist here the amount of human brains they consume actually dictates their intellect.
|It's not uncommon for a night of zombie slaying to be followed by tea and crumpets.|
It is a novel concept for sure but given that it isn't played for laughs (unlike Return of the Living Dead) it does have a bit of conflict with the serious tone the film is going for. Case in point is a scene where a recently bitten woman is trying to have a conversation with a human and during their stereotypical proper dialog exchange her head explodes almost cartoonishly. How about a scene involving a zombie who sets a trap for their victims and is subsequently dispatched in a rather ridiculous manner. If you are predisposed to find talking zombies humorous then it might be a bit of a chore taking the film serious from time to time.
|While most of the zombies talk, they all eventual turn into the ghouls we recognize.|
The entire cast is pleasantly solid though. Lily James, who made a huge impression in the lead for Cinderella last year makes for a very confident and enjoyable female protagonist. Sam Riley somehow avoids the pitfall of playing Darcy like the bore he appears to be and gives James the perfect zombie hunting counterpart. All the other characters do good supporting work but most like Charles Dance and Lena Heady (both Game of Thrones alumni) don't really have much to do aside from citing their dialog and quickly being forgotten. But that has more to do with Jane Austen's novel than a failing of the film.
|Love is a battlefield...filled with dead zombies.|
As a zombie fanatic it is impossible for me to hate PPZ as I truly appreciate how different it is from nearly every other zombie movie out there. But that isn't enough for me to give the film a full recommendation as it's Jane Austen meets George Romero mash up doesn't gel in a completely satisfying way. There are a lot of neat ideas buried deep beneath the surface that hints at a film that needed to go all in but instead opted for folding a bit too early. Zombie fans should give it a shot, everyone else should steer clear or just wait for it to hit home video.