Movie Review: “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” – Bloody Funny

Written by Caitlin Cooper February 10, 2016

pride and prejudice and zombies

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen’s novels are some of the most beloved classic stories, particularly Pride and Prejudice. There are a lot of film adaptations of her most popular love story, and each one has their own take on Austen’s novel. Well, what if the strong and opinionated Elizabeth Bennet met the socially awkward and (eventually) kind-hearted Mr. Darcy…during a zombie apocalypse? Author Seth Grahame-Smith had that idea, and his best-selling novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was born. Film makers know audiences love watching Austen adaptations, so why not make a totally bad-ass and absurd film adaption of Grahame-Smith’s re-imagining?

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies tells the tale of a time in England centered on manners, class, and marriage. But these mundane things are overshadowed by the zombie apocalypse which has increasingly spread across the land. The Bennet sisters, highly trained in combat, meet newcomers Mr. Bingley (Douglas Booth) and Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley), and immediately things become much more interesting in Hertfordshire. Jane Bennet (Bella Heathcote) and Mr. Bingley immediately begin a shy courtship at the ball. A battle of wits and zombies ensues with Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, though the arrival of mysterious officer Mr. Wickham (Jack Huston) creates tension in the community. And it soon becomes clear that the zombies are far more complex than humans initially believed: they’re intent on breaching London, and eventually all of England.

“Gallantry is not dead.”

Some people may think the premise of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is ridiculous, and indeed it is quite odd, but that’s what made me want to watch it. I like Pride and Prejudice, and I like zombie films and TV shows. Not only that, but the trailer looked awesome. The concept is absurd, bad-ass, and yet still has the lovely original story present, which is what makes the movie so entertaining. The last thing you’d expect after Elizabeth overhears Mr. Darcy insulting her is for zombies to attack, thus forcing Elizabeth to put her combat training to good use alongside her sisters and slay the living dead. As an Austen fan, I appreciated them amplifying the character’s personalities, and yet giving them a darker edge: they’ve seen battle, and they’re even less inclined to put up with bullshit. Elizabeth and Darcy batte verbally and physically, but it makes their passion for each other much more obvious and quite entertaining. And Elizabeth literally fights for Darcy, just as he risks himself by going to save Lydia from Wickham and the “nice” zombies without Elizabeth. Somehow it makes the happy ending seem lighter in contrast to what they faced throughout the film. The characters are less reserved, and the relationships are portrayed nicely. Elizabeth supports Charlotte (Aisling Loftus) marrying Parson Collins (Matt Smith) because it’s what Charlotte wants. If anything, this movie is about solidarity, not judging people, love, and family. Oh, and zombies. Can’t forget those.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Aside from the witty banter, there are two other aspects of the film that make Pride and Prejudice and Zombies laugh-out-loud funny. First, there are “nice” zombies who eat only pig brains and therefore have not fully transitioned to the living dead constantly on the hunt for human brains. They can talk, and think like their peers. Indeed, they can even comment on how rude Mr. Darcy is. Zombies and society manners is an odd and hilarious combination. Another good comedic aspect is the character of the Bennet’s cousin Parson Collins who initially wants to marry Jane and then Elizabeth. Austen’s character was always quite ridiculous in how conceited he is, and how much he boasts about himself and his status and friendship with high class people, but this version of Parson Collins is somehow even more ridiculous. He’s such an oddball, and he doesn’t believe in women knowing how to fight (of course), but won’t hesitate to let the ladies save him anyway. You can’t take anything he says seriously even though he does.

“Dear Miss Bennet, I’ve come to feel for you a most ardent admiration.”

The script of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies may be well-written – aside from the fact that the pacing is so fast the relationships don’t develop that naturally -, but the cast makes the film something special. Recently, James played Cinderella in the live action Disney re-make, but here she sheds the innocent persona and fully takes on the strong, witty, and bad-ass Elizabeth Bennet. Riley’s Darcy has a raspy voice to match his serious and dark demeanor, but he also manages to make the character come across as the vulnerable and socially awkward Austen character we know. Lena Headey and Charles Dance are under-used in this film. Dance as Mr. Bennet could’ve brought more to the film, but he was sadly given very little screen time. Booth plays Bingley well, and there’s a sweet moment between him and Jane. Smith is so good at comedy it seems only natural he was cast as Parson Collins. His character is perfectly silly.

pride and prejudice and zombies

Sure, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies may be a touch too absurd for some people, and the script does sometimes move a bit too fast to appreciate Austen’s original story and characters, but mostly it’s a hilarious, bad-ass, and highly entertaining re-imagining. There’s a bonus scene mid-credits that leaves it open for a sequel, and I had such a good time watching this oddball movie that I’d probably go see it too. If nothing else, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a unique take on a classic story, and it’s one that has audiences laughing and hooked right from the start.

My Rating: 7.5/10

pride and prejudice and zombies

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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