When the Austen parody novels “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” and “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters” by Seth Grahame-Smith hit the book shelves some time ago, they cause a stir and the former was promptly slated for an adaptation in 2009. Now, in 2016, we finally see the fruit of those labors.
Anyone with a basic knowledge of the “Pride and Prejudice” story will immediately notice the major scenes and smaller nods to the literary work from which it borrows. After being treated to a brief history of zombie inhabited England courtesy of a Charles Dance voiceover, we then commence the story following Elizabeth Bennet, genteel woman and zombie killing warrior, and her family as they navigate the perils of English society and the zombie apocalypse. After a series of suitors and her subsequent rejections, the headstrong Elizabeth realizes her error and takes action to save her future with Mr. Darcy and they live happily ever after. Until the zombie horde shows up that it.
We all know the story. And that is all this movie essentially is, just with a few zombies in there to satisfy the “and Zombies” part of the title. Darcy is a leather duster wearing Colonel, Wickham a schemer til the end, and Collins just as fawning as before. There are a few tweaks to accommodate the shoe-horning of our societies monster of the moment into the film, most notably a character who dies rather than marries off.
The only one who really plays to the ludicrousness of the film is Matt Smith as Mr. Collins. Each time the Doctor Who alum enters the frame, he seems to be almost winking at the audience as he plays up the poised, polished and prattish nature of the character. Lily James and Same Riley play the parody as a serious role, and while the characters themselves might demand it, the situation surrounding them only serves to undermine what could have been an otherwise admirable performance in a straight adaptation.
Lena Headley brings her Cersei portrayal to the English countryside as Lady Catherine de Bourgh(with an eye-patch and fierce atticude to round it out) alongside fellow “Game of Thrones” alum Charles Dance as Mr. Bennet, who replay didn’t get enough to do in this movie to play to his acting chops, much like in “Dracula Untold.”
Basically, don’t go to “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” and expect theatrical leaps on the screen or your moms “Pride and Prejudice.” It’s a little gory, a little fun(okay, a lot actually. I rather enjoyed myself, I’ll admit) and a lot of absurdity.
Just because I like my romance movies to be a little gory and a little fun if I’m going to sit through it, I’m going to give it a B- effort in time for the holiday. Go see it instead of another insufferable Nicholas Sparks movie for Valentine’s Day, please.
Unless you have tickets to Deadpool. Then see that.