DIRECTOR: Burr Steers
WRITER: Burr Steers
Set in 19th Century England, the five Bennett sisters are highly trained from a very early age to be able to fight and protect themselves against the ever-growing zombie apocalypse. While preparing for battle, they are also being groomed by their mother for marriage. Will they have time to be able to fight and survive the hordes of flesh-eating undead while also making time for all the eligible bachelors that seek their hand in marriage?
The troubled production of Pride And Prejudice And Zombies is widely known across the land of cinema. From the very first announcement of a film adaptation going into production back in 2009, it seemed like nothing could bring this film to the big screen. Many directors dropped out of directing the project. Natalie Portman who was initially cast in the lead role also left the film. It appeared as though Pride And Prejudice And Zombies was looking at a long slog to get itself into theatres. Close to seven years later, the film saw itself hit cinemas.
After tepid critical reviews and a weak box-office take. It seemed that nobody was really interested in the zombie period romance genre. When I first heard that Indie dramedy filmmaker, Burr Steers was at the helm. I had faith that maybe he could've managed to blend together the period romance and zombie outbreak elements well. I was a big fan of his first feature film Igby Goes Down. I thought after everything, we might get to see this turned into a decent movie.
I'll be the first to admit that I've never read the original source material by the iconic writer Jane Austen or the parody novel that this film is based on. So I can't compare the source material to this film. I've also never been interested in costume "period" dramas either. I find them all rather boring and dull to watch. So adding zombies and gore into the mix was the right way in getting me to actually sit down and watch one of these types of films. Was the melding of genres a success? I think they personally blended well together for the most part. The film is far from perfect, but as a guilty pleasure, I thought it worked.
I think the first big problem that I had with Pride And Prejudice And Zombies was the pacing. The movie while containing a few entertaining and explosive set pieces. It still somehow feels like it's slow and drags. The pacing of this movie feels really shoddily handled. When the action isn't being thrown at the screen and audience, the film feels like it moves at a glacial pace. At almost an hour and fifty minutes, the film feels a lot longer, and I think this comes down to the pacing of the film.
Another issue where I think Pride And Prejudice And Zombies suffers is with the tone. Tonally the movie works when it's dishing out its own brand of zombie justice and the more horror related stuff. Even the period romance worked for me. I think where the movie has issues is the comedy element. The film has moments of levity and tries to throw in a few jokes, but I felt like these moments rarely landed. These scenes just came across as awkward and unfunny.
Regarding the visuals and cinematography, I thought the film was gorgeous to look at. Burr Steers and Co. do a great job of nailing down 19th Century England. The costume design was also great in this film. Everything looked and felt authentic. I even thought the fight choreography was well done within the film. I really enjoyed the final set piece with the bridge explosion. I thought it was quite impressive and added a decent helping of action to the film.
When it comes to the performances and acting, I'm a fan of Lily James and as our main heroine. I think she delivered for the most part. I saw a few reviews state that she was miscast, but I think she did a fantastic job. Matt Smith of Dr. Who fame was the standout for me. He plays the dorky role well. Douglas Booth and Bella Heathcote have great chemistry. I also really enjoyed Jack Huston in the villainous role. I believe that Lena Headey is severely underused in the movie, and Sam Reilly as the brooding love interest is my least favourite performance in the movie. I find him rather bland overall as an actor.
Lastly, I must mention the zombie effects and the violence. I think where Pride And Prejudice And Zombies missed a perfect opportunity was going all out with its gore and violence. A lot of the scenes within the film seem to shy away from the carnage. It's either done by using CGI which makes all the makeup work look fake, or it's done from the zombie's point of view, so we don't get to see a lot of the gory carnage. I really wish this would have tried for a hard R rating.
DEATH TOLL: 21 + (Roughly 20 In Ballroom Massacre)
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Zombie POV of being stabbed with a broken bottle and beheading.
- Ballroom Massacre (Lots of stabbing and blood spray was shown).
- Zombie's hand sliced off, and head stomped on.
- Infected wounds.
- Heads are blown off.
- An axe in the back of the head.
- Four zombies are blown up.
- Arm snapped backwards and crushed by rocks.
- Fingers are chopped off and thrown into an oven.
- A rotting baby and mother are seen.
Pride And Prejudice And Zombies is a mixed bag for sure. I think this movie is more of a guilty pleasure than anything else. Regarding the zombie sub-genre, it's far from being the best that the sub-genre has to offer. The movie has its problems. The tone and the pacing being the biggest of those issues. However, the movies cast gives it their best shot with the material, the cinematography is gorgeous and the visual set pieces do push the movie into securing itself a positive review. It's worth a once off watch. An enjoyable mash-up of zombies and period dramas.