First of all I feel the need to bring up that I’m not a fan of Jane Austin. I’m not saying she wasn’t a talented and influential writer, both of which she was. I’m not a fan of any real works of that period as I find that language arduous to get through and you need to have a firm understanding of the social structure of the time. Which is something I do not possess. That said, I am aware of her works and the cliff notes version of a meager handful of her novels. Mostly from friends who are more devoted fans than I could ever be. I went into this film with my head full of the bad reviews and internet trash talk that I had come across since its release. So when I got a steaming bowl of pretty OK, I was more than pleasantly surprised.
The film recaps the rise of zombie apocalypse across 19th century Europe, before getting to the Bennet sisters, Elizabeth (Lily James), Jane (Bella Heathcote), Kitty (Suki Waterhouse), Lydia (Ellie Bamber), and Mary (Millie Brady). The five sisters have received martial training in China, rather than in Japan as is considered fashionable among the wealthy at their father’s (Charles Dance) behest. A decision that the girl’s mother (Sally Phillips) disapproves with as she feels that it makes them less desirable for marriage. We also get quickly introduced to Colonel Darcy (Sam Riley), who hunts and fights the zombie menace with the aid of carrion flies. Mrs. Bennet’s worries of proper suitors are soon alleviated when the rich Mr. Bingly (Douglas Booth) moves into the nearby estate. While attending a ball there, Mr. Bingly and falls for Jane, while Mr. Bingly’s close friend Colonel Darcy falls for Elizabeth and her for him. Though through hardheadedness and miss conceptions neither is willing to admit their feelings for the other. Things get worse when Mr. Bingly breaks off his relationship with Jane and leaves the area abruptly. Elizabeth later learns he had done so on the advice of Wickham (Jack Huston), a soldier that shares history with Darcy. But dark times are ahead as Elizabeth keeps seeing visions of the Four Horsemen of the Zombie Apocalypse…
I honestly don’t get people’s complaints that this film isn’t that great of zombie film, or that it’s not that faithful of an adaptation of Jane Austin. Since it’s not intended to be either as it’s based on the 2009 novel of the same name by Seth Grahame-Smith. It feels more like a tongue in cheek joke on both, and for me it hits a real good blend. The action scenes are spaced out to keep the focus more on the relationships of the characters. With their marriage opportunities being the forefront over zombies.
Not that zombies ever fade from the film long enough to even begin to forget about them. As there is enough zombie action in this film to sate my appetite. My only issue with the zombie end of things is the battle scenes not being gruesome enough. Not that I require a vast amount of viscera in my zombie films. But the lack of gore during a the larger battle scenes is felt.
My one main gripe is that I was never worried for any of the principal characters. Given that it’s a spoof on Pride and Prejudice, all the main characters have solid plot armor. I wish that this film would have gone against the grain and killed off one of the sisters at least. Maybe even one of the suitors or even Mr. Bennet. Since knowing that they will survive on the grace of being established characters feels cheap.
Final Thoughts, I will admit that this film is no modern masterpiece. It is fun and entertaining, though. Which is a films primary goal. OK, maybe not fun. But most certainly entertaining. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies never tries to be deep, which is good since it would lack the chops to do so. Instead it goes for a cheeky zombie romp through classic literature. Some I’m more than happy to sit through. 8/10