Culture Magazine

Movie Review – Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

By Manofyesterday

Director: Burr Steers

Stars: Lily James, Sam Riley, Bella Heathcote, Douglas Booth, Sally Phillips, Charles Dance, Lena Headey, Jack Huston, Matt Smith

A classic tale of love in 19th Century England, with the characters tangled in relationships as a horde of the undead roam the countryside.

First a disclaimer – I never made it through Pride and Prejudice and I haven’t seen any of the film adaptations of it, so I cannot speak to how well Pride and Prejudice and Zombies adapts the original story or how well it speaks to the themes the story presents. I’m also sure that much of the irony of certain lines or scenes being reinterpreted in this version were lost on me. However, despite not being too familiar with the overall story I still found this film to be very enjoyable.

One thing that annoys me about zombie films is that many of them feel too similar and repetitive, and while the mashing up of these two genres could be seen as a gimmick it actually works. The blending of the two worlds succeeds, and much entertainment follows. Here Liz Bennett (James) and her sisters are shaolin-trained women who are now at the age to be married. Colonel Darcy is a zombie hunter who shows a lack of patience and a cold heart, but the two of them are thrown together as a deadly conspiracy among the undead could spell the end for the country.

I particularly liked the rules of zombies in this film, in that before they gorge too heavily on brains, zombies can actually hold onto their humanity. I also liked the inventions that the 19th century came up with, and the worldbuilding that occurred, with people educating themselves on martial arts in efforts to combat the undead. There were several badass moments throughout the film, most involving James, who provided a magnetic screen presence and shared good chemistry with Riley.

There were some creepy visuals and a few gory moments but nothing too out-of-hand, which honestly I was a little disappointed by. The other thing that disappointed me was a lack of Lena Headey, as we didn’t really see her character in action even after she was billed as the deadliest woman in England. But hopefully that shall be in a sequel, and on that point remember to stay in your seats at the end because shortly after the first batch of credits there is a scene at the end, and if the film proves successful I would love to see a sequel.

The film is very much a horror-comedy, and most of the humor comes from Matt Smith’s simpering character, which I’m sure will delight Doctor Who fans out there. I had a blast watching this. It feels fresh, which for a zombie film is saying something because much of the genre is made up of the same old things, so this is a welcome addition to the catalog of zombies out there. The title and premise of the movie may sound ridiculous at first but it’s actually a lot of fun and I hope it does well enough to earn a sequel because I feel there’s more material to be mined here.

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