Bella Heathcote and Lily James in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Screen Gems)
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – the movie title probably strikes fear in the hearts of literature professors and horror fans alike, but it shouldn’t. The movie stays faithful to the spirit of the Jane Austen novel while throwing a hilarious undead wrench into the proceedings. Austen loved strong women navigating the social norms while trying to find love and happiness during England’s Regency Period of the late 1700s. In the latest film adaptation, the women still do this – while killing zombies in the process.
The movie still revolves around the Bennet sisters with much of the action centered around Elizabeth (“Downton Abbey”’s Lily James) and Jane (Bella Heathcote). While trained to conform to the social graces of the day, they have also been trained to be expert zombie assassins as well. Though society might dictate that women “need” men to keep their place in the social hierarchy, these women don’t need men to protect them from England’s undead threat. Though they may look proper in their corsets and bonnets, their long dresses are the perfect uniforms to hide the weapons they need to fight against an unexpected zombie attack at even the grandest of parties.
While James and Heathcote are great, the male cast members are just as fun. Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley), Mr. Bingley (Douglas Booth), Mr. Wickham (“Boardwalk Empire”’s Jack Huston) and Parson Collins (“Dr. Who”’s Matt Smith in a scene-stealing turn) all stand toe to toe, or in this case, sword to sword, with the women. In a post-modern twist that would make Austen proud, both Elizabeth and Jane save their suitors from becoming zombie food.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, this is the perfect date movie. Fans of romance will love the central idea of Austen’s novel. Fans of horror will love the zombies. Plus the romance isn’t too syrupy, and the violence isn’t too graphic to turn off either side. Most importantly, this movie is funny. Sure, lots of “comedies” claim to be funny, but this is one that actually lives up to the hype which brings me back to Valentine’s Day. Laughing produces endorphins which can raise the libido which can lead to … well, you get the picture.
And if adding zombies attracts new fans to classic literature, then that’s a bonus. I would, however, love to be the teacher reading a book report when some corner-cutting student starts writing about zombies. Did I mention that the zombies, like in 28 Days Later and the Dawn of the Dead remake, run? Follow their lead and run, don’t walk, to the theater this month.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
In theaters Feb. 5
Films are rated on a scale of 5 stars (must-see), 4 stars (exceptional), 3 stars (solid), 2 stars (average) and 1 star (unworthy).