Rumors of an impending film adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice
and Zombies started circulating the day the book hit shelves. No surprise. Take one of the most successful novels of all time, dress it up with karate and a trendy horror shtick, and suddenly you’ve got a movie that will, if all goes well, appeal to two rarely intersecting demographics. Moms and fourteen-year-old boys the world over will set aside their petty differences in the hopes of seeing Jane Austen’s vivid work come to life on screen and a lot of gore, respectively. And if that’s all you’re looking for too, then you will enjoy this movie.
Because there are things to enjoy here. The cast is invariably British and beautiful, there are lots of fun fight sequences, the humor is sufficiently tongue in cheek, and the core love story remains (for the most part) intact. Also, I feel safe in saying that Matt Smith’s turn as perpetual-butt-of-the-joke Mr. Collins will never, ever be topped in any past or future P&P adaptations. (His dancing in the Netherfield Ball scene will destroy you. You’ve been warned).
But if you’re expecting the film to have the same satirical self-awareness as the novel, you might be disappointed. One of the things that made PPZ so funny was how the addition of zombies into Regency society didn’t really change things much. The heroines are given moves a Cobra Kai would envy and the finest dojo in all of Hertfordshire, and it still
doesn’t significantly improve their situation in life or offer any freedoms they might not have had otherwise. That was the joke. Just because society is crumbling in the wake of a zombie apocalypse doesn’t mean you aren’t still beholden to it. And some of the satire
of the book is lost in translation; there are even moments when the movie takes itself just a little too seriously, not totally unlike Seth Grahame-Smith’s last adaptation Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Also, and this is just me being picky, there were some strange nods to the 1995 BBC production of P&P. Including but not limited to, Mr Darcy (Sam Riley) taking an impromptu swim in a handy pond. Sounding familiar?
I can’t tell if the movie is playing with us, or whether there are people in Hollywood who aren’t aware that scene isn’t in the book.
What I’m saying is that the people who made this film took the title very literally. It’s Pride and Prejudice… and zombies. Elizabeth and Jane and Darcy and Bingley all exchange furtive glances while they stave off the End of Days. Bodices are ripped. Bosoms are heaved. Brains are eaten. And, full disclosure, that’s still a movie I’ll absolutely pay to see.