Over the years, there have been many film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, but never one quite like this. Take Jane Austen’s much-lauded novel, and add an unhealthy sprinkling of the undead and there you have it – Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Based on the mashup novel that mixes Austen’s original manuscript with Seth Grahame-Smith’s addition of zombie subplots, the movie doesn’t quite have the bite you’d expect (even with the zombies). The film dithers between romance and hilarity, with the odd gruesome beheading of an undead being. The exclusion of the subplot in which Elizabeth Bennett’s best friend Charlotte succumbs to the zombie plague also seems ill-advised, as it would have added a depth to the adaptation.
The saving grace of the movie is its stellar cast. Lily James is a feisty and formidable Elizabeth Bennett to Sam Riley’s brooding Darcy. Throw in an impressive fight sequence rife with sexual tension during the famous proposal scene and you almost wish Austen’s original Elizabeth was as much of a badass.
“Lily James is a feisty and formidable Elizabeth Bennett to Sam Riley’s brooding Darcy”
The supporting actors are just as brilliant; Charles Dance is a great Mr. Bennett, and Lena Headey a chillingly disdainful Lady Catherine de Bourgh (with an eye-patch to boot). Matt Smith provides the comic relief as a delightfully camp Parson Collins, and Douglas Booth steps into his usual role of the chiselled eye-candy, this time as Mr. Bingley.
Director Burr Steers never seems to figure out what he wants the film to be; it’s not gory enough to be a horror, not funny enough to be a comedy and romantic in the quirkiest way. But this adds to the film’s overall charm.
Don’t go and see the movie if you think Austen sacred. Don’t go if you’re a horror fan, or if you’re expecting a rom-com. But otherwise give it a go, because it’s ambitious as hell, ridiculous in the best possible way, and just buckets of fun.
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