Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Film, Comedy
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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

A good looking, well acted but totally un-horrifying and unfunny adaptation of the popular genre mash-up novel

Literary mash-up ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ was 2009’s must-have stocking filler, the kind of last-minute impulse buy that bookshops stuck next to their tills like Snickers in a supermarket. The questions facing this handsome, decently budgeted movie adaptation are: how many of the people who bought the book ever bothered to read it, and how many of those are going to make the effort to catch it on the big screen seven years later?

Lily James (‘Cinderella’) plays Elizabeth Bennett, the brittle daughter of a down-at-heel aristocratic family who falls out of and into love with Mr Darcy (Sam Riley), a smokin’ rogue with a razor wit. Only in this vision of Jane Austen’s nineteenth-century, England is overrun by shuffling brain-eaters so young ladies study martial arts instead of sewing.

By far the most enjoyable scenes here are those in which James and her sisters engage in girly gossip while cleaning rifles, polishing samurai swords and beating the crap out of each other. It’s the zombies that are the problem: watering down the violence for teenage audiences and playing fast and loose with undead mythology (zombies can talk now, apparently), the film flatlines the moment anyone draws a blade. The comedy, too, is played peculiarly straight: only Matt Smith seems to be having any fun, as a parsimonious parson who takes a shine to Elizabeth. The result is an odd, inconsequential but not entirely charmless misfire: an action-horror-comedy-romance with none of the first two and precious little of the third.

By: Tom Huddleston


Release details

Release date: Friday February 12 2016
Duration: 108 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Burr Steers
Screenwriter: Seth Grahame-Smith, Jane Austen
Cast: Lena Headey
Lily James
Jack Huston
Sam Riley

Average User Rating

2.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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If you like blood/splatter movies, you are going to love it. Watch it in a cinema with well arranged sound system, big screen and you are absolutely going to enjoy it. It's not a horror movie  - more of a comedy. The well known pride-and-prejudice story with a zombie's twist. Blood everywhere :P


"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains, must be in want of more brains."

So begins the bloody adaptation of the novelty bestseller - and every Austen-fan in the cinema who misguidedly went along in the hope that the zombies would be a mere afterthought breathes a sigh of disappointment and resignation.

My hopes weren't high when I saw this film, but I can't say that all of my fears were realised. It wasn't terrible. It wasn't brilliant. It wasn't even really very enjoyable, as I spent most it feeling rather uncomfortable. Yet for all this, I don't regret seeing it and would probably even watch it again.

In its favour were an underlying plotline that is a tried and tested classic, some stellar acting, and sumptuous costumes (complete with heaving bosoms - they did go a bit overboard on the cleavage). Going against it was the uneasy feeling that you didn't quite know what you were watching.

It's at its strongest when it updates its source material with zombie-related backstory, and its weakest when additional plot points are added in willy-nilly. It could have been so much improved by simply focusing on the juxtaposition between the zombie-infested world and that of Regency England - and playing it for laughs rather than an odd combination of comedy, scares and romantic palpitations. Sadly, the latter two frequently misfire and the laughs just weren't frequent enough.

The pros: Lady Catherine De Bourgh blossomed into a stand-out character under the steady hand of eye-patched Lena Headey - any film with an eye-patch gets at least one star without even trying. The class system is amusingly updated to include the snobbery towards people who undertook their deadly arts training in China rather than the more popular Japan. And Mr Collins remains very much the same as ever, but he does implore Elizabeth to hang up her sword before their marriage (Matt Smith is a brilliant comedic addition).

Unfortunately, despite these elegant little touches, the film suffers from a case of superfluous zombies. Not scary enough to satisfy the horror film fans yet too jumpy and grotesque to allow you to relax into the comedy or romance,  the director unfortunately hits a bum note with his portrayal of the undead. This tones down in the third act (perhaps partly because you're used to them, perhaps because they're shot in crowds rather than close-up) but for the first hour at least they do end up rather spoiling the fun. They feel disgusting, yet not particularly scary - a poor combination.

Ironically, the love story of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies is perhaps the weakest element. With a sped-up plot there's simply not enough time to feel invested in the leads' feelings, and the film resorts to cliché on too many occasions.  

In all, it was an interesting evening but one that could have been improved on so many levels. If you like the original story and can just about stomach the zombies then I by all means recommend it, but perhaps wait for the DVD - where the dead flesh won't be quite so in-your-face. If you're in it for the zombies alone, don't bother!

(In response to the earlier reviewer, I spent £6 on my ticket via an offer. I would not recommend spending more)

why...? with tickets to cinemas £13-£17 a pop...why on earth would anyone spend money on this...?