February 8, 2016 Pride + Prejudice + Zombies (Movie Review)
“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me,” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.
One often has to rise to the occasion when in stressful, life or death situations. Getting caught in a Zombie film would be a good example of this. Night of the Living Dead (1968) sparked this trend, and ever since then, there has been a high demand and popularity for a good Zombie flick, pitting humans against the undead. The main character often has to overcome their fears, try everything in their power to remain uninfected and take back their way of life in a constant battle of survival. Although hundreds of Zombie movies have been made in the past fifty years since, not many have a known, non-supernatural history behind them, such as the aforementioned Pride and Prejudice by Austen. In this story, Elizabeth Bennet lives with her father, mother, and sisters in an English countryside. As the eldest sister, the urgency to get married as soon as possible is overwhelming. She believes that there is much more to life than just becoming someone’s wife. However, when the handsome Mr. Darcy comes around, her feelings become complicated. Yes, this story is well known, but what would happen if Austen had thrown Zombies into the picture as well?
Distributed by Lionsgate and Screen Gems, and directed by Burr Steers (Pulp Fiction 1994, Charlie St. Cloud 2010), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a unique and fun Horror Comedy that is sure to have audiences taking notice. Marc Butan (We Own the Night 2007, Killing Them Softly 2012), Natalie Portman (Black Swan 2010, Thor 2011), and Brian Oliver (Rush 2013, Everest 2015) are only a few of the producers on this film that is based off of a screenplay by Steers, along with an amazing musical score by Fernando Velázquez (The Orphanage 2007, Mama 2013). The story itself is based off of two novels: Pride and Prejudice by Austen and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith. Filmed in the United Kingdom, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies stars Lily James (Wrath of the Titans 2012, Cinderella 2015), Sam Riley (13 2010, Maleficent 2014), Bella Heathcote (In Time 2011, Dark Shadows 2012), Jack Huston (American Hustle 2013, The Longest Ride 2015), and Douglas Booth (Noah 2014, Jupiter Ascending 2015).
Taking place in England during the 19th century, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies tells the story of how the big island became plagued with Zombies and the safety measures residents engaged in over the years to protect themselves from the undead, everything from building walls, to destroying bridges, to training in hand-to-hand combat. Mr. Darcy (Riley) travels to a wealthy estate to investigate a possible Zombie situation. He interrupts a game of cards, explaining the situation, and although they reassure him everyone is healthy, he asks to sit in on the game. Meanwhile, he pulls out a small vial that contains unique flies that are said to be able to detect the undead. The flies buzz around, buzzing extremely loud, until suddenly there is complete silence as the insects land on the undead. As Darcy had expected, the undead are back, but who has been infected?
While Darcy becomes concerned with this, the Bennet family is introduced: Mr. and Mrs. Bennet (Charles Dance: Dracula Untold 2014, Victor Frankenstein 2015) and (Sally Phillips: Bridget Jones’ Diary 2001, The Decoy Wife 2011) and their five daughters, Elizabeth (James), Jane (Heathcote), Kitty (Suki Waterhouse: Pusher 2012, Insurgent 2015), Mary (Millie Brady: Mr. Selfridge TV series, Legend 2015) and Lydia (Ellie Bamber: The Falling 2014, The Musketeers TV series). The girls have received intensive martial art training from China, which is frowned upon as most people are to train in Japan. However, the girls do not appear to be lacking in any skills and are admired by their father. Their mother does not care much for their learned abilities and wants them to just get married to wealthy suitors, especially Elizabeth and Jane, the oldest girls. When Mr. Bingley (Booth) hosts a ball, Mrs. Bennet has high hopes that he will win over one of her daughters. Unfortunately for her, not all of the girls are excited. Elizabeth thinks there is more to life than finding a suitable husband and she will not lay down her sword for any man.
At the ball, Mr. Bingley finds himself enamored with the angelic Jane and she soon becomes smitten by him. Elizabeth is not impressed by many suitors, but when Mr. Darcy enters the room, she cannot keep her eyes off him. The feeling is not mutual at first, leaving Elizabeth hurt and embarrassed. But there is not much time for tears because, soon after, the ball becomes plagued with Zombies and everyone must think fast! As the girls slaughter the Zombies one by one, Mr. Darcy witnesses Elizabeth’s fighting skills and suddenly feels a spark of emotion – one he had never felt before.
As the story continues, the Brits fight for their lives against a never-ending herd of Zombies as more and more people become infected. Meanwhile, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth find their feelings growing, but it becomes complicated due to their different backgrounds and social classes. They continually butt heads and argue, but when George (Huston), a new man, walks into Elizabeth’s life, will Mr. Darcy step up his game or will he let his pride eat him alive? Will any of it matter if the Zombies destroy everything around them?
This film is exactly what the title says – Pride and Prejudice meets Zombies. This Jane Austen romance has never been more exciting and fun. Who would have guessed that it was missing a special ingredient – Zombies! Released on February 5, 2016, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has already made over five million dollars at the box office. Although some critics may not be pleased with this take on the Zombie culture, many viewers are thrilled. The film is filled with fun, excitement, twists, badass chicks, and awesome Zombie slaughtering skills. What is not to love? CrypticRock gives Pride and Prejudice and Zombies 4 out 5 stars.