Pride, Prejudice and Zombies Will Rack Your Brain and Eat it, Too
By Lucia Rossi
The struggle is very real when it comes to surviving a zombie apocalypse, as well as finding a decent wealthy husband in 19th century England. This of course was especially true for the Bennet sisters in the genre mash, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.”
It was a long way coming for this film due to it being passed down through five different directors, until its sixth, Burr Steers, finally took over and rewrote the script. Who knows what the film could have been if it was directed by David O. Russell and starred Natalie Portman as Elizabeth Bennet as originally planned.
It’s safe to say that if you enjoyed “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter,” then you will enjoy “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” because it was written by the same author, Seth Grahame-Smith.
However, the film does not stay completely true to either Jane Austen’s classic or Grahame-Smith’s re-imagination. It goes a little beyond both and does its own thing.
Although Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” was written realistically for its time period, this is a complete alternate universe where the future is completely uncertain for all the characters and London itself may not survive.
The film prepares you for the story in a child-like way of displaying England’s history fighting the zombie plague through the aesthetically pleasing, yet dark, use of a pop-out picture book. It goes quickly, so you must pay attention and listen carefully in order to better understand the world they live in.
All the character’s personalities are true to Austen’s description but are much more intense due to their closeness with the undead and possibly their own deaths. It definitely helps to make all the sexual tension more exciting and bearable. There seemed to be even more pressure on the characters than normal, not only because of their pent up emotions and manipulations by friends and family, but because of the hints of impending doom made by the brief appearances of the four horseman of the apocalypse.
The type of zombie that is dealt with in the film is different from most depicted in pop culture. It’s interesting because once bitten, their bodies degenerate but they keep their humanity until they consume human brains.
Even when they do consume human brains and fully transform, they can still speak full sentences and even try to set traps to capture prey, although many do become overwhelmed with hunger and rage. They’re fast, smart, and angry that society has abandoned and exiled them, and can form armies together. I’d say that is more terrifying than your average Walking Dead-style zombie.
I must admit, the fight scenes were not as great in this film as they were in “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter,” and yet this film had more favorable ratings from fans on Rotten Tomatoes. Although the scene of the Bennet sisters banding together in battle looks promising in the trailer, it is misleading.
It was very intriguing how the people of 19th century England protected themselves not by focusing on the advancement of weaponry but on fighting techniques. The upper class men and women had training from Japan, while the lower class men and women had training from China.
Both were questionable in the way that Mr. Collins was the only man saying that a lady’s place was at home and somehow even middle class families were able to afford trips for their children to train in another country while still holding down the fort.
It was very disappointing that with all that fighting experience and knowledge of previous battles with zombies, there was no emphasis on the one way to kill zombies for good, a head shot. Yes, heads do roll and explode in the film, but the filmmakers don’t make it a necessity. It was this much overlooked fact that allowed a main character to survive. Didn’t their parents ever teach them the importance of a double-tap?
For original Pride and Prejudice lovers, the movie certainly stays true to all major plot points, except one: Mr. Wickham’s elopement with Lydia.
There were many times when the film quoted memorable lines from the novel which made it refreshing and nostalgic but nothing compares to the scene of Darcy’s first attempt at proposing to Elizabeth.
Elizabeth, played by Lily James, becomes overwhelmed with rage for what she believes Darcy, played by Sam Riley, has done and they take part in this exhilarating and cheeky duel, which was hands-down my favorite scene. It was like everything that was happening to them internally was finally being exposed and challenged.
The film exaggerates classic supporting character roles but does it well with passion and well-known actors. I’m talking about Matt Smith as the hilariously awkward Parson Collins, and Lena Headey as the kick-ass warrior Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
Put actors from “Doctor Who” and “Game of Thrones” together in a film and what do you get? My undying attention.
It’s also worth mentioning that Mr. Wickham becomes way more of a villain than he ever was in Austen’s novel; this is putting it lightly.
Be warned that the film has just as many funny moments as it does creepy ones but will leave you with this awfully frustrating cliffhanger.
The movie constantly reminds you that it’s not just “Pride and Prejudice,” it’s “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” Parties get crashed and overrun, politics are debated among the undead and the living, and no corseted dress is complete without knife holsters on your garter.