Director: Burr Steers
Starring: Lily James, Matt Smith, Sam Riley, Lena Headey
Back in 2012, a truly legendary film burst onto the scene called ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’. The film, directed by Timur Bekmambetov, was darkly vicious and a genuinely cheeky parody of the life of the great American president Abraham Lincoln. It was based on the 2010 novel of the same name by Seth Grahame-Smith. A year prior to that book’s release, a similar novel was released by Grahame-Smith called ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’. The parody genre of classic novels had never been done quite like Grahame-Smith did it and the resurgence was refreshing, if only to see someone poke fun at such heralded works. So, when it came time to bring ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ to the silver screen, you just knew we’d be in for entertaining antics as seen in ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer’. However, entertaining antics might have been all we got with ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’.
Directed by Burr Steers (Igby Goes Down), a frequent collaborator with young Zac Efron, ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ never quite actualised the dark potential it had to be a great cult classic. Hitting on surface levels far too frequently, this film just wasn’t funny enough, dark enough, or savage enough to truly induce peak enjoyment. Starring Lily James (Downton Abbey) and Sam Riley (On the Road) as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, the film had tremendous potential, with a couple of young English actors who had indubitably been forced to read the Austen classic in grade school. Nonetheless ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ simply wasn’t of the same ilk of its Vampiric predecessor.
In the 19th century, a plague comes to life across the English countryside infecting the dead with the ability to come back to life. As the handsome but self-righteous Mr. Darcy courts (and disdains) the lovely, bumptious Elizabeth Bennet, the duo must fight the undead and rid the badlands of the notorious creatures, including killing numerous family friends, much to their own chagrin and the viewer’s enjoyment. Armed with muskets and rapiers, plus having been trained in the far regions of Japan and China in shaolin temples, the Bennet sisters and co. must stand their ground, united beside England’s depleted military, to fell the blood-thirsty monsters’ attempt to take over London.
While its action is tense, with vicious blood-soaked sweeps and stabs of the sword into zombie brains that will keep you interested, the story lacks a real substance to make you appreciate the craft of zombie mutilation. The olde English vernacular certainly adds to the films luster, but is often scant with the meaty depth of Austen’s famous work. Further, after having been coerced to sit through the 300-part BBC ‘Pride & Prejudice’ series by numerous girlfriends over the years, it’s important to note that the courtship feels forced throughout between Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley; the two star-crossed lovers simply lack the authentic emotion of Austen’s ink.
Now, in the interest of not seriously comparing it to its authentic forerunner but to its contemporary, ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’, is it as good? Shortly, no. Yet, is it as entertaining? Absolutely. Thus, taken with the intentions of enjoying watching zombie brains being scattered across the floor in a new way, ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ is not the worst flick you could have in your queue.