Directed and written by Burr Steers, starring Lily James, Sam Riley, Douglas Booth, Jack Huston, Matt Smith, Lena Headey and Charles Dance. Adapted from the parody novel written by Seth Grahame-Smith; England is under threat by a hoard of zombies based on the Pride and Prejudice novel.
I’ve never read the book this is adapted from, nor have I read Pride and Prejudice, but it is my understanding that this book is simply the Pride and Prejudice story with an element of zombies mixed in. This mixture creates a very odd tone throughout the film resulting in an uneven balance of narrative of the original book while attempting to include zombies. This unevenness grows as the book moves further away from the original story of Pride and Prejudice in order to incorporate zombies, resulting in much weaker and predictable narrative than the original book, I would imagine.
When the zombies are on screen, the tone and direction of the film felt as though it ought to be comedic and reminiscent of the stlyle used in Hot Fuzz, as you watch these iconic literary characters discussing the subject of the undead.
During the actual Pride and Prejudice narrative, the story becomes more interesting and compelling, still with elements of zombies but the grounding of reality in this particular world helps; however, as the story becomes more zombie focused it also becomes more predictable and boring. The two subjects never seem to successfully merge as one and the tonal shifts between the period piece and the zombies never seem to flow successfully.
I am a great fan of the zombie genre, one of my favourite books, and possibly the best interpretations of zombies is World War Z. I have watched The Walking Dead and listened to We’re Alive podcast. So I feel I have a great understanding of that particular supernatural entity. This is by far the worst interpretation of zombies as they do not seem to consistently follow any rules or laws, as one quick swipe of the blade across a zombie’s throat seems to kill them which is inaccurate, to say the least. There is never a great sense of threat from them though this threat is discussed in great detail, so that when you finally do see a hoard of them they are disappointing, with various shots depicting several going for a jog and moaning oddly.
Though this is a very poor understanding of the zombies, one of the benefits that stems from this adaptation is that it creates an interesting and progressives platform for gender. The women are all trained and skilled fighters as they are either sent to Japan or China depending on criteria and desired skill set where they are taught to fight the undead.
Leana Headey’s character, who seems to be Cercei from Game Of Thrones, only with more humility, is known throughout England as the deadliest and most fearsome killer, a refreshing approach considering this is set during the period times where women scarcely had any privileges if any.
Darcy and Wickham are the only men capable of fighting the zombies, while other men run in fear or approach zombies only when they believe to be contained behind wired fencing.
Matt Smith’s character, Parson Collins, provides the best comedic value of the film, with the most intelligent script. Smith for once, outshines everyone and though you may not like his character, he is very funny and manages to outshine anyone on screen.
So while scenes from the original Pride and Prejudice have been mixed with martial arts or some have been used as a reference for the fans. The only vaguely interesting component of the film is that by using the loose interpretation of zombies, it has enabled a feminist approach to a very familiar story.
OVERAL ** As I say the zombies have allowed a feminist twist on a usually male dominated narrative; however owing to the uneven tempo between normality and Zombies with a frankly boring and predictable story in parts. This was a waste of a usually charismatic and powerful cast.
RECOMMENDATION – Watch if you really feel the urge to see Matt Smith’s acting or a feminist twist, otherwise I would give this a miss.