PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES (2016) is a historical zombie film based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s 2009 mashup of the Jane Austen novel with zombies. The result is a comedy of manners and marriage with, well, zombies. The film was a box office bomb and has been widely criticized for having too much talk and dancing to please zombie fans and zombie action that will not please many Jane Austen fans. As for me, I liked it. It wasn’t earth shaking but it was well done and lots of fun.
The story focuses on Elizabeth Bennett, one of five sisters living in 19th century England. The girls must train to fight zombies that have overrun much of England while girding themselves to find good husbands, as their father has no male heir to inherit his estate. Romance develops between Bingley, a rich and handsome aristocrat who falls in love with Elizabeth’s beautiful sister Jane, but the real event is Elizabeth’s growing attraction and repulsion with the dark and blunt Colonel Darcy. They run afoul of a plot to overrun all of England with a different type of intelligent, thinking zombie that intends to rule. Matt Smith plays an overbearing and childlike parson, who provides comic relief.
I liked it for what it was, a fun mashup that is fairly well told with good pacing and action. The zombie element is weaker than the Jane Austen element, as zombies seem to show up at every ball and party, which for some reason appear undefended in a country infested with them. As a result, England’s surviving aristocracy seem to keep getting wiped out repeatedly. People ride off alone between estates, only to predictably encounter more than they can handle. It was unclear to me what part of England is actually held by people not yet zombies, and how its economy can even support an aristocracy anymore. As a result, the zombies appear to be a plot device inserted the way Raymond Chandler suggested introducing a gun–to spice up a scene otherwise not going anywhere exciting.
Again, though, I took it for what it was and with low expectations, and ended up enjoying it.