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.
Cast and crew