There is no title that is as unambiguous as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Audiences go into this movie knowing exactly what they are going to get.
And it’s awesome.
Based on the Seth Grahame-Smith novel that parodies the Jane Austen classic, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies reunites audiences with Elizabeth Bennet and the distinguished Mr. Darcy in a gory retelling of the well-known story. When a plague is brought back from colonization in the West, the undead begin to rise and force both men and women to study combat. Despite the zombie apocalypse, 19th century English customs remain unchanged and the Bennet sisters still find marriage to be their main concern.
The premise is absurd and the film is aware of it. This awareness allows the film to not take itself too seriously and be just as funny as it is bloody. The action scenes, especially those where the Bennet sisters are unleashed onto the zombies, are the most enjoyable parts of the film. Also, anything with Lena Headey as an eye-patch wearing, zombie killing badass is incredible. If one is willing to embrace Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ ridiculousness, they will enjoy it.
However, the film cannot escape the awkward moments that come with mashing up two vastly different genres. While it is surprising how smoothly the film is able to tonally shift between romance and gore, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is at its weakest when it tries to be serious. Because of the familiarity audiences will likely have with Austen’s story, the excitement and unpredictability come solely from the zombies. If they are off screen for too long, the film begins to drag. Another major drawback is the opening of the film, which explains how the zombies came to be and how England reacted. Such information could have been introduced throughout the story in a more organic fashion.
The performances are great and I suddenly want to see Lily James in an action-packed summer blockbuster, but one actor in particular stands out: Matt Smith. Playing the daft Parson Collins, Smith showed his comedic timing and ability to give priceless reactions without saying a word. Sally Phillips was equally hilarious as Mrs. Bennet and has memorable moments despite her small role.
Do not expect Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to be anything more than it is: a light-hearted film filled with zombies, romance and proper kickass ladies. Definitely worth a watch on Netflix and the winner of this slow box office weekend. If Deadpool gets sold out next week, this is a fun alternative.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was released nationwide on February 5, 2016.