If you’re a fanatic for adaptations of canonical literature but also love a good gore-filled zombie movie, this film should have all the ingredients to be one of your liking. What’s not to love about a steamy romance between the delicious Mr. Darcy and the famous heroine of the nineteenth century, Elizabeth Bennett, accompanied by the added anxiety of a horde of the undead posing a threat to the human race? Did the long-awaited Pride and Prejudice and Zombies succeed?
In my opinion, the film was very, very average. Only scoring 43% on ‘Rotten Tomatoes’, I would say this was a just evaluation. It was ultimately a poor attempt to add a horror twist to one of Jane Austen’s most famous creations. This production initially seemed quite risky, with the potential to be brilliant or positively stupid. However, what I did not expect was for it to be dull.
A POOR ATTEMPT TO ADD A HORROR TWIST TO A TREASURED PIECE OF CANONICAL LITERATURE. AFTER A PLAGUE-FUELLED DISEASE ATTACKS THE LAND OF THE LIVING, RENDERING THE MAJORITY UNDEAD, THE BENNETT FAMILY, ALONG WITH MANY OTHERS, ARE SENT AWAY TO DEVELOP THEIR ZOMBIE SLAYING SKILLS FOR A BETTER CHANCE OF SURVIVAL UPON THEIR RETURN HOME.
The sense of adventure I was expecting was not present within the film and I found myself wanting the content to conform to either one or the other; an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice or another zombie film. The merged genres did not fit together well and the storyline seemed fragmented. The mash up of the timeline of events within the original Pride and Prejudice fit badly with the events of the zombie apocalypse that you sometimes forgot was happening.
Considering zombies make up half of the main focus of the plot, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies failed to just create a zombie that was scary. With the recent high demand for zombie content, audiences are more accustomed to viewing portrayals of the undead as aggressive, decaying and blood-curdling. It is these depictions that have fulfilled our sickening curiosity to receive a sense of the supposedly inevitable zombie-apocalyptic doom that is so frequently predicted.
With this competition in mind it was disappointing to see zombies that were either alive, dead or somewhere in between. It seems that producers may have struggled mixing the world of zombies with a treasured piece of canonical literature as easily as Seth Grahame-Smith used intertextuality to create his co-authored novel.
Similarly, the zombies were made to talk as plainly as alive humans do, creating the idea that it was possible for zombies to live alongside humans harmoniously. This made me feel sympathetic for those unfortunate undead which I do not believe was the intended outcome. The only time talking zombies have been authorized was in Warm Bodies which was of a comical nature and even those script writers had sense enough to make it so the zombies could not talk properly!
This leads me on to discuss the humour within the movie. Albeit charming in some areas, adding dimension to the character of Mr. Collins, who is known to be a bit of an oddball, the overall use of humour cheapened the already limited script and made me feel quite frustrated with the film. They had got it all wrong, from the zombies to the storyline. Finally, to the casting!
Mr. Darcy, the mysterious and austere heartthrob of the early nineteenth century is played by Sam Riley, who met my expectations of Austen’s depiction of Mr. Collins than Matt Smith, who actually plays Mr. Collins. This is not to criticise his look, but his demeanour and aura that did not fulfil my personal preferences as to how Mr. Darcy should be. Although, I admit the only person who could reach my satisfaction would be Matthew Macfadyen who was cast as Mr. Darcy in the 2005 film adaptation alongside Kiera Knightley as Elizabeth Bennett.
Overall, I had high expectations for a film that probably didn’t have much chance of success anyway. However, with well-known individuals cast such as Lily James from Downton Abbey and Lena Headey and Charles Dance both from Game Of Thrones, it held the promise of being something great that ultimately failed due to the rushed plot that seemed thrown together, rendering it a big mashed up mess. Also, the cliff-hanger ending hinted that there may be another Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in the making, however, it is not something I would be likely to spend my money on.