Ever since Jane Austen’s literary classic Pride and Prejudice was released in 1813, millions of readers have enjoyed it, along with the new editions, modern versions, fan fiction and crossovers it inspired. It speaks volumes about the novel’s appeal that more than 200 years after its publication, people are still interested in the Bennet sisters’ story.
Pride + Prejudice + Zombies is an adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s parody novel of the same title in which he has the audacity to credit Austen as co-author. Even though I didn’t read his novel —because there’s only so much fan fiction one can endure in this life— I must say that I thought the film was quite enjoyable, despite the unfortunate casting of Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy.
The movie is hilarious because of it’s bizarre juxtaposition— a 19th century tale of ladies looking to find suitable, preferably advantageous, marriages while preparing to fight the zombie apocalypse. The premise is both its strength and its doom. On one side, the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it is not afraid to go for the easy comedy scenes: like the Bennet sisters preparing for the night’s ball (but instead of exchanging laces, they polish weapons) or having Darcy be a zombie-slayer (Blade-style leather cape included).
The problem, however, is that at times the story unfolds naturally and then, out of nowhere, a zombie appears and throws off the plot’s rhythm. It feels as if two stories are going on that can’t quite blend together properly. That, coupled with the actual lack of gore that the zombie-killing requires and a script that has a few good one-liners but mostly is kind of flat, is the adaptation’s biggest problem.
A hysterical performance by Matt Smith (Dr. Who) as Mr. Collins and a surprising appearance by Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) as Lady Catherine de Bourgh are the movie’s highlights acting-wise. But the most delightful scenes were the ones where the action was played out amongst humans: the Bennet girls practicing their slaying skills at home while they talk about their daily affairs and an actually shockingly sexy sequence of Elizabeth and Darcy fighting, just after he insults her and proposes.
The film is an easy laugh. If you are an Austen fan and can handle to see her classic defiled, or even if you have never read or watched Pride and Prejudice before, there’s a chance that, if it’s a lazy Sunday, you don’t have anything else to do and you decide to give it a chance— you might actually like it.