“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” doesn’t meet any of its goals

Photo credit goes to Screen Gems

Mei Baek, Staff Member

“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”, like the source material that it comes from, is a horror/comedy parody that plays off a single joke- it’s the Jane Austen classic from every high school English class in the country…but the ladies wear daggers under their skirts, the gentlemen boast guns, and the social elite are trained to fight the undead. While the book wasn’t exactly a literary masterpiece, it was funny enough to become a bestseller and earn praise for its clever mashup. The movie, which premiered Friday, Feb. 9, chooses to amp up the action and gore, a director’s decision that may not have gone as well as hoped.

For a movie derived from a parody book, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” boasted an impressive cast, including celebrities such as Lily James as Elizabeth Bennett, Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy, Lena Headey as Lady Catherine and Matt Smith as Mr. Collins. Smith and Headey were the most fun in their roles, with the former providing most of the comic relief and the latter showing off a reputation as a deadly zombie-slayer with an eyepatch to match. But good actors alone cannot make a good movie.

In essence, the only thing that differentiates “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” from the material it pokes fun at is in the title- zombies, which are stitched into a storyline that otherwise deals with 19th century drama and love triangles. The horror and thriller element of the story perhaps the worst, as it is managed by means of badly-lit, out-of-focus action scenes that lack suspense or good fighting. These tiresome and unenjoyable scenes took time from the movie that, in the source material, had been used for witty and wounding banter between the two love interests, the scathing conversation for which “Pride and Prejudice” is so well known.

“Pride and Prejudice” centered around Elizabeth Bennet, one of the five Bennet sisters, and Mr. Darcy. Over the course of the novel, the headstrong girl and the wealthy gentleman develop a love-hate relationship with a foundation of lively and scathing banter. The parody turns the Bennet sisters into trained zombie-fighters and equips the 19th century gentlemen and ladies with guns and daggers and martial arts expertise, and plays the rest of the movie without changing much else.

As a parody, there were scenes where the strange mixture worked. The humorous element of the movie was brought out best not in the action scenes, but in between them, when viewers could soak in the amusing scenes where the “zombies” and the “19th century romance” clashed best, watching the members of high society discuss their zombie-killing skills as they polish their wide arrangement of deadly weapons. But for the most part, the focus of the movie is on one tediously repetitive joke- gentlemen or ladies being swarmed by masses of hungry zombies.

On its own, the movie fails no matter what genre it is categorized under. It’s clearly no Austen classic. The relationship is not built up nearly well enough for it to be a proper romance, the humor is not stressed enough for it to be a comedy, and the action is too sloppy for a zombie flick, which it clearly strives to be. Though it doesn’t work as a standalone, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is amusing enough for some Austen fans, though anyone looking for a real zombie movie should steer
clear.