Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Reworking and adapting a cherished novel into a film is a challenge few people live up to or would even desire to burden themselves with, even less so if it involves mutating a beloved romance into a zombie movie.
Adapted from Seth Grahame-Smith’s best-selling novel, itself a revamping of Jane Austen’s classic, the film is set in early 19th century England in the years following an outbreak of a plague that has turned much of the population into zombies. Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) and Mr Darcy (Sam Riley), the film’s two love interests, are experts at martial arts and zombie killing. In a tangle of love affairs, social classes and zombie antagonists, one of literature’s greatest romances plays out on an apocalyptic backdrop and is transformed into a comedy-romance-horror hybrid.
The film is quite a muddled and uncertain feature that never quite gets the balance of genre and narrative right. Unfortunately the it suffers from an editing style that is too often frantic, not allowing scenes, and therefore the audience, to settle and get hold of character development. Perhaps because there is a presumed familiarity with the source text, the romantic stories are jeopardised for a more kinetic and propulsive rhythm, leaving the love story between Elizabeth and Darcy struggling to engage in the way Austen manages to enrapture the readers of her novel.
Where the film succeeds and the audience can derive most pleasure is in the comedic elements. Veteran comedy actress Sally Philips, as Mrs Bennet, is superb delivering her dry-witted dialogue, and Matt Smith as Mr Collins is scene-stealing in bringing the audience to laughter, each playing on the formula of male-female relationships in Regency dramas. Moreover, one of the greatest achievements of the film, and perhaps what it should be celebrated for most, is its creation of strong, physical and dominant rolls for its actresses – something still far too lacking in modern cinema. Lily James, Millie Bennet, Ellie Bamber and Bella Heathcote each take the reins of their roles expertly, and for younger viewers it will be a great joy to see female characters who are not bit-part players to male romantic leads.
While the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is flawed in its style and often clunky in its delivery of the narrative, it nonetheless is funny, watchable and, frankly, despite messing with a sacred cow, is difficult not to have liked.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is released nationwide on 11th February 2016.
Watch our interviews with the cast here.
Watch the trailer for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies here: