Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)
Director (and writer): Burr Steers
Cast: Lily James, Sam Riley, Bella Heathcote, Ellie Bamber, Millie Brady, Suki Waterhouse, Douglas Booth, Sally Phillips, Charles Dance
Five sisters in 19th century England must cope with the pressures to marry while protecting themselves from a growing population of zombies. – IMDB
Parody novels seems to be a fairly new thing in the last few years. Its always risky business to mess with the Classics but the initial idea of adding zombies to anything usually works. Think about when I looked at the children’s novels collection the past few years called Fables of the Undead. Jane Austen, particularly Pride and Prejudice, is particularly close to my heart, as I’d imagine it is for many people especially with the strong-headed girl and the very misunderstood Mr. Darcy which gives a lot of the charms. As parody novel goes, I’ve never read this source material but in my mind, for this to work, there had to be a fine balance on keeping the original ideas and adding enough of a twist of balancing out how to integrate the zombies logically and well, Lizzie and Darcy. Does it live up to it? I’d say half and half.
Suffice to say that I think the story itself retains a lot of the original flow of events. It works for the fans of Jane Austen but the twist really is in the nature of the characters especially how the Bennet girls are trained in the high arts of fighting and weaponry as they live in this desolate world of zombies taking over the world. Was the world always like this? Why are they trained so strongly if not? There’s a lot of questions here of the set-up that leave a little to be desired. It would be what sets it apart but its really how the characters integrate and how the zombies can live in hiding until tasting human flesh that they truly turn and how the zombies work that give the extra twist. It also obviously pulls in the sly Wickham into the equation. Darcy, of course, is the no BS highly skilled fighter. The landscape is a little gloomier. The question is whether its set itself apart and the twist at times feels like its slightly forced. I like the fact that they kept to the script and a lot of the Pride and Prejudice popular stuff is kept in but it just felt like a very small change and I’m not sure if I’m completely down with the zombies aspect. Its probably why the film, after putting this together is categorized as an action thriller and not a horror (Oops..but zombies count for Halloween).
As for Darcy, I have nothing against Sam Riley. Honestly, I’m not sure what else I’ve seen him in but I didn’t really feel like his Darcy gave me anything special. He was just odd. Darcy is odd and awkward and misunderstood but somehow, maybe its because the Darcy’s before him are so iconic that I couldn’t really get into his character as Darcy. On the other hand, Douglas Booth has a thing for these kinds of roles. I’ve seen him before in a similar one with 2013’s Romeo and Juliet (Review). I haven’t quite decided whether I like him or not but as Bingley, somehow it felt like it worked.
All disappointments aside, I loved the fight scenes (slow motion or not) and the strength of the Bennet girls and how they enter the scene full of character. The setting and landscape and the tone to create the environment works well and its a nice piece to watch especially in the final act of the film. However, it was slightly lacklustre. Whenever I watch a movie like this, I want to catch up with the source material. Maybe it captures a little more than what was translated to the big screen. Its dangerous territory to tread and it just fell short of my expectations. Sad because it had all the elements that I like a lot.
Have you seen Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?