Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a book and a movie retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with zombies added to it. I read the book a few years ago, but haven’t read it since because honestly, the addition of the zombies was a little odd. Even so, I decided to try the recent movie version because I was intensely curious about how it was going to translate from the pages onto the screen, and also how it compared to other movies, namely the 2005 version starring Keira Knightley, Matthew MacFayden and Donald Sutherland purely because it’s the version I’ve watched the most.
I really enjoyed some of the aspects of this movie. Visually, it is amazing. The costumes and detailing was meticulous and beautiful. The outdoor scenery was gorgeous, but had dark lighting because the sky appears almost perpetually stormy and grey. In saying that, some scenes were of almost stereotypical English countryside with bright sunshine, which was jarring when zombies appeared because, the make up and effects on the zombies made them appear extremely realistic, and completely out of place.
Character wise, it was very interesting. Matt Smith’s Parson Collins was hilarious, silly and light hearted. This works well against the deadpan humour throughout the movie, though there are other scenes that were just as amusing. One of these was the proposal scene between Elizabeth (Lily James) and Mr Darcy (Sam Riley). This Mr Darcy is more open and emotional than the 2005 Mr Darcy (Matthew MacFayden), which was nice. This helped to lead to the full-blown brawl between the two that included Elizabeth brandishing a fire poker. Other moments of levity included Lena Headey playing the formidable Lady Catherine with an eye patch. However, I kept expecting it to turn into a complete horror movie at any moment, so I spent much of my time watching and waiting for the penny to drop.
Though I enjoyed it, there are some points of this movie that I had a problem with. The movie deviates from the book in several ways. I won’t say whom, but in the book there is a character that has been infected by a zombie, but in the movie it is a completely different character. This allows, and causes, different events to happen and different characters to meet whom have never met in any previous versions of Pride and Prejudice. These all lead to a different ending in the movie than what is in the book. This is good in one way because it allows everyone to be surprised, but at the same time, it could be off putting for people who love the book the way it is.
Another point is that the movie doesn’t explain very well where exactly the zombies are. They are clearly in the vicinity of London, but there is a wall surrounding London and there is something called the Royal Canal. It seems that the zombies are trapped in an area called the in between, which made me assume that another wall had been built and zombies hadn’t spread throughout England. But, and it’s a big but, the way the characters talk about the zombies and an introduction at the beginning that explains how the zombies came to exist, make it appear that the zombies are all over England. Maybe I didn’t pay enough attention to this bit, but I got quite confused and kept wondering about it, which obviously then worked to make me not pay proper attention to the movie. Also, a strain about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, who are said to be harbingers of the Last Judgment, was added which I don’t remember from the book at all, and this strain never seems to be properly resolved by the end.
I’m going to finish on an ambiguous note, and that is the zombies. The make up and special effects are on point, and the zombies look incredibly believable. This is clearly good, but its not good if you’re a little scared of zombies like I am. It’s so unnerving how realistic and believable they look, that I was watching this a ten in the morning and still felt like I had to periodically look out of the window to check there wasn’t any of the zombies in our back yard. I do not recommend watching this at night if you’re prone to being scared of zombies unless you have someone who is willing to let you hide in their shoulder.
Though entertaining, this movie won’t be winning any awards and is something that I probably won’t watch all that often, mainly due to the zombies.
3 stars out of 5.