One from the to watch pile…
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)
A few years ago, the cool literary thing to do was to take a classic piece of literature, mix it with elements of horror and turn it into an amusing variation on the original text. The first of these was when Quirk Books’ editor Jason Redulak approached Seth Graeme-Smith with the title and idea of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; the concept being taking Jane Austin’s public domain book and ‘remastering’ it with elements of a zombie apocalypse.
The idea took off, and a glut of like-minded sequels and imitators emerged, but this one stood out with its ability to maintain the ‘proper’ elements of Austin’s text with a refreshing tongue-in-cheekiness. It maintains the themes of the original, and the addition of the zombie apocalypse somehow fits seamlessly.
Of course, it was only a matter of time before it was adapted to the cinematic form, and what a victory it is!
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is set in England in the early 1800s, after a time where the undead have returned to life. Of course, proper society must prevail, but everyone; men, women and children, are taught combative ways to defend themselves and their families against the undead.
Our tale is of Elizabeth Bennett (Lily James) and her four sisters who reside on a country estate with their parents, and are well trained with gun, sword and in Chinese martial arts. Her mother has a fascination with making sure all her daughters marry well so they can be ‘taken care of’, but Elizabeth is a strong willed girl who resists.
She meets a well versed, and austere zombie killer named Colonel Darcy (Sam Riley) whom she immediately dislikes, but even more so after she meets an ex-friend of his, Lt George Wickham (Jack Hutson) who tells her tales of bastardry performed by Darcy upon him.
Wickham shows Elizabeth that the zombies aren’t all they seem, and that perhaps mankind can live alongside zombiekind, but wherever she goes, Darcy seems to show up, but is it accidental, or is he quite taken with Elizabeth?
Also, attacks by zombies seems to be coming more frequent… Is it just a coincidence, or is someone organising them to attack the living?
I must admit to having a lot of trouble reviewing this film as whilst I totally enjoy the zombie aspect of it, and it is quite funny, I wasn’t sure if it was a horror film, but instead a parody. Eventually I told my brain to shut up, and just flowed along its river.
The action and effects are great, though those who hate CGI for hates sake will probably criticise the blood splattering effects. The fighting is all well choreographed and played with great comedy timing, and the zombie make up is fantastic.
The zombie mythos within the confines of the story are a nice breath of fresh air over the usual ‘get bit and eat shit’ style. These zombies can maintain a sense of humanity, as long as they don’t eat human brains, which is a nice change from the modern day World War Z styled zombies who instantly turn into a berserk enraged hunger monster, which is just not what a proper educated zombie would do!
The casting is perfect as well, and all the girls (Bella Heathcoate, Suki Waterhouse, Millie Brady and Ellie Bamber) are played as coquettish as they should, and are all beautiful. The men are mostly square-jawed and bold, and the Bennett parents, played by Charles Dance and Sally Phillips are the perfect straight man and stooge. A special acknowledgement has to made of Lena Heady as zombie fighting heroine Lady Catherine De Bourgh who plays the tough type in the fashion she always does.
Truly the hero of the casting in that of ex-Doctor Who Matt Smith. His portrayal of the foppish Parson Collins, whom has hopes of making Elizabeth his bride,is so effeminate and precious that it would have made Hugh Grant jealous. Truly here he nailed a positively hilariously ‘English’ character.
All in all this film was a real fun and enjoyable watch, but is hardly a horror film. It really is a period drama that happens to have zombies in it.
Format: This review was done with the Australian release, region B bluray. The image is presented in 2.40:1 with a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, and both are impeccable.
Extras: Heaps of extras on this disc. First, there is a blooper reel, and a few unnecessary deleted scenes, and then we get to the meat of the disc.
From Austin to Zombies: Adapting a Classic is not just about adapting the book to the film, but also how it was completely necessary to keep the ‘Austin-ness’ to it for it to efficiently work.
Mr Collins Line-O-Rama gives Matt Smith the limelight as he delivers and re-delivers several of his lines.
The Badass Bennett Sisters looks at the development of the various fighting styles of the actresses playing the Bennett sisters.
Courtship, Class and Carnage: Meet the Cast looks at the cast choices of the film.
WISIA: It’s charming, so I can see myself watching it again.