Pride and Prejudice and Zombies offers us a tasteful horror-ific retelling of Jane Austin’s classic novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’, adapted from Seth Grahame-Smith’s 2009 Novel of the same name.
Austin’s tale of how true love can overcome the prides and prejudices prevalent in ye olde English social structures is given a face lift here, setting the tightly woven plots and sub-plots of the source material to the backdrop of a zombie-apocalypse.
If, like me, you’ve sat through the gruelling four hour BBC adaptation of the novel you to may have pondered, what if the Bennet sisters were trained in martial arts?, what if Mr Darcy was not only incredibly alluring to housewives – and actually had a viable reason to go swimming in that skanky pond – but appealed to their husbands to by being a kick-ass zombie slaying commander, what if the grand ball at Netherfield was interrupted by a pack of feral ghoulish orphans and what if the scandalous Mr Wickham was actually plotting to over thrown the crown using a groomed legion of sentient undead and not just a bit of a dick?
All those questions, and more are answered here, and with all of the original sub-plots and character dramas included, plus the zombie stuff, I would dare to say that it appears that Ms Austin left a fair amount on the table? Indeed, the urgency created by the impending apocalypse seems to give the whole story a more imminent timeframe; let’s be honest, like Parson Collins, the novel has a somewhat flubby mid-section.
That said, and in her defence, had Austin been exposed the wealth of culture and inspiration afforded by today’s home-video market, I’ve no doubt this is the novel she would have wanted to have written.
The film opens with a story board scene setting telling of how the zombie plague, spread obviously by the French, came to England. It tells that the crown responded by building a giant barrier around London, then digging a huge moat and declaring certain parts of the area in and around these counter-measures as partial safe zones; allowing the aristocracy to venture out and reclaim their countryside estates, relying on their own combat training from their trips to the orient.
It’s within these conditions the film places the characters popularised by Austin’s novel, each of them having to work through the social issues facing them in the source material albeit with some slightly altered backstories. The Bennet sisters are still searching for rich husbands, the pastor is still a blatant sycophant, Lydia still runs off with Mr Bingley in a rushed engagement; and of course, there are the constant hits and near misses of Lucy’s love/hate relationship with Mr Darcy. If you’re not familiar with the interconnected storylines of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ then I would suggest you will struggle to follow, because, and I am not jesting here, this film squeezes just about every situation from the original story into this film, at a far brisker pace. It very much assumes you know the story beforehand.
‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ is not so much of a spoof, as it is a very witty re-imagining, original dialogue and all. If anything, it shows just how timeless and how definitive Austin’s work really was. Strong characters and carefully crafted drama. Here the zombies serve to provide that ‘something more’ necessary for horror fans to remain engaged.
Visually the films something of a treat. If all the period costumes and outstanding zombie make-up wasn’t enough the film’s sets and locations play out like an advert for England’s National Trust numerous stately homes. The acting also portrays the characters as authentic to the time period, all played by well-known members of the small screen and stage. Nothing here appears done on the cheap, and all of the production goes into ensuring that this film not only does justice to Austin’s story, but to its own source material to; contrary to what you might perceive, this film is far from a ‘so-bad-its-good-movie’ which begins and ends with a silly title; it’s a fantastic zombie-flick in its own right.
The violence is limited admittedly, not so much the instances as the undead feature heavily, but its gratuity. There’s some decent gore when needed, but as I’ve already said, this film is a drama with Zombies in it, as opposed to a film where everybody is getting eaten by the shambling horde. As with everything else in the movie, there is a good attention to detail with regards to ensuring that the recently dead get their time to shine alongside everybody else. I still don’t feel that your average horror fan will feel short-changed, despite the films 15 rated certificate.
Overall ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ is an easy film to recommend, more so if you’ve had to sit through various iterations of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ with family and loved ones – it’s amazing what a difference a few zombies here and there make. But I will stress, I can’t see it being for horror fans not au fait with the original novel, as its essentially a watered-down version of the drama – with the zombie wrap around. That said, if your intrigued P+P+J is More than just a glib take on an already established classic, this is a cool flick in its own right.