What happens if you bring zombies to the 19th century England? What if you combine it with a love story? Those are things that must’ve been asked in the writing room of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies before it came to be a reality.
Five sisters in 19th century England must cope with the pressures to marry while protecting themselves from a growing population of zombies.
A PLEASANT SURPRISE.
Jane Austen, sarcasm, zombies, pushy mothers, hilarity, questionable suitors, and the kick-ass, fierce Bennet sisters are all delivered in this fun, entertaining and energetic movie. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies doesn’t take itself seriously, and you shouldn’t either.
The movie works, but you can’t go into it already judging and comparing it to what it’s not. Because P P & Z is fully aware that it’s not THE Pride and Prejudice, and it never claims to be. And as a fan of Jane Austen, and all things classic and original, I myself had reservations about this movie when it was released. The zombies may have swayed me the most about giving this movie a try, along with the portrayal of the female warriors in the previews. I was still wary, because how many times have we fallen for a preview that cleverly weaves together the 8 best scenes of the entire movie into 2 minutes of dramatized lies? Too many times, that’s how many. So, I braced myself and started the movie when I had nothing better to do for an hour and 43 minutes.
The movie starts off typical enough, with Liz Bennet’s voice over scenes of the peaceful English countryside, narrating the current happenings, including “the slaughtering of an entire household by a horde of the unliving during a whist party”, while Mr. Darcy moves across the screen, making his presence known and unwanted. You know, just like in the book. He further irritates everyone around him when he shows up to poor Mrs. Featherstone’s place and announces someone at her party was recently bitten by a zombie. Mrs. Featherstone assures COLONEL Darcy that they are all well aware of the protocol, and what to look for. After all, it’s been two years since the last incident.
Famous last words, as there is a recently turned zombie sitting right there at Mrs. Featherstone’s table, casually shuffling cards before Darcy beheads him, effectively killing the party vibe when he kicks the head out of his way as he leaves. Everyone unfortunate enough to be in the path of the rolling head lets out disgusted gasps, offended that Darcy has the nerve to be so disrespectful. This is nothing new, though, and they get over it quickly. This is Mr. Darcy, after all, and I find myself laughing at the absurdity of how normal this storyline is coming across. But I’m only five minutes into the movie, so let’s all calm down.
As the opening credits roll, it’s story time with Mr. Bennet. He tells us the story of the once bountiful time in history where countries peacefully traded spices, silks, and plagues. It’s always one country’s fault for spreading these plagues that turn people into zombies (France, apparently). But then the scene opens with the five Bennet sisters sitting around cleaning guns and pistols, their father watching over them proudly while he sharpens swords – and it’s obvious that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was made to indulge and provide us with a smart, cult-classic-movie-vibe to entertain that burning question that can only come from a conversation inside a mind that is either bored, inebriated, or illegally medicated:
“What if zombies had made their way into 19th century England?”
“Why the 19th century?”
“Because I’m wondering what would happen to the characters of Pride and Prejudice.”
“Umm…they’d become zombies. That’s what happens. Zombies make the living into more zombies.”
“OK, but what if, like, they knew about the zombies. So, get this…ok, everyone knew how to fight them, and recognize them, and it was just a normal part of life.”
“Man, I don’t know. But now I wanna know.”
“Like, think about it. Mrs. Bennet still hung up on marrying off her daughters, like “Yes, there are zombies we must be prepared to kill, even during tea time, but just because they’ve stopped living, it doesn’t mean we do as well. Life goes on, someone must maintain you, so in between zombie training you will do as a I say and entertain possible suitors!””
And so the delightful talkie that is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was concocted.
The Bennet sisters are polite, well-mannered, well-spoken, trained zombie assassins. As Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia tend to their weapons, Mrs. Bennet fusses at Mr. Bennet who has “already put them at a decided social disadvantage by insisting they do their combat training in China.” China is apparently down in the same ranks as France, because Japan is the country to learn how to decapitate the unliving. Mother’s fussing is brought on by the arrival of a new, eligible suitor, and this is a golden opportunity to unload at least one daughter. Jane is more than willing to meet this new suitor, which is great, because the potential daughter to unload is, in fact, her. Lizzy has much to say about this (shocking), which incites snobby remarks from her youngest sister. While Mrs. Bennet continues to press Mr. Bennet about meeting the newest toy in town by attending a dance, their daughters display sisterly love in true fashion. Lydia calls Liz a cow, and after exactly one evil head tilt, Liz jumps up, chasing her screaming sister out of the room, the rest following in giggles. Weapons forgotten, their father, giving in to their mother, is quick to remind his gaggle of girls that going to the dance is, in no way, a relaxation from discipline.
Okay, let’s get this out of the way. Yes, all your beloved characters have managed to survive the plague that turned the nearby orphanage into every parent’s worst nightmare. We have the entire Bennet family, Mr./Colonel Darcy, Charles Bingley, George Wickham, Charlotte Lucas, Mr./Parson Collins, and Lady Catherine.
Mr. Bennet: still sarcastic and dry as ever, but clearly loves each of his daughters very much
Mrs. Bennet: still unhinged, dramatic, and so very overwhelming to anyone who must interact with her; hell bent on marrying off her daughters to the point I do believe she’d entertain the idea of a zombie suitor
Jane Bennet: still as lovely, sweet, and beautiful as she’s ever been described since the beginning of time (well, 1813, really). She can’t escape the flu in this version of her life, though, and it causes quite a stir because is it the flu, or is she going to try to eat her family? I suspect that, even as a zombie, Jane would still have the perfect decorum and be kind to everyone
Lizzy Bennet: still witty, clever, smart, and prejudiced, just with guns hidden in her dress and knives safely tucked away in her stockings. Her defiance and independence suit her well as this version of Elizabeth, because shit gets really real after she turns down Parson Collin’s proposal, screams at her mother that a marriage should include affection, and then storms off into the woods alone, throwing an Elizabeth Bennet glare over her shoulder when her father yells, nearly a football field length away, that he forbids her to do the very thing we all know she’s going to do. Because it’s Lizzy Bennet
Mary, Kitty, and Lydia Bennet: Present! As the three youngest sisters, all hold their own when it comes to pissing their older sister off. It makes for fun scenes between the sisters, as they tease and chase each other. They gossip while sparring, throwing punches and insults simultaneously, because that’s what zombie fighting sisters do. Lizzy tries to defend both her body and pride as each of her sisters question her about Mr. Darcy. With daggers in her voice, she answers their questions as she puts them in headlocks and kicks them into the crumbling foundation. The sisters destroy parts of the house as they try to destroy each other, their mother screaming in the background that they’re going to knock the house down
Charles Bingley: still as handsome, adorable, and smitten by Jane as the rest of us, and still a victim of Mr. Darcy’s interference with his relationship with Jane. Ugh
Mr. Darcy: Lizzy calls him a prig (though when I heard her say it, I secretly wished she’d said something that sounded similar to this, but Lizzy Bennet is still a proper lady of sorts, zombies be damned), no one has anything nice to say about him, and anyone in his presence looks to rather be in the company of the unliving. He comes around, however, after Lizzy literally kicks his ass and he nearly dies after being on the bridge they had to explode so the Zombie Brigade couldn’t recruit new members
George Wickham: Oh, Mr. Whickham. Still charming, but also still not very good at being clever and evil. Some things will just never change
Parson Collins: please, just watch this movie, because words don’t currently exist at this point in time that can accurately describe Parson Collins in all of his questionable glory
Lady Catherine de Bourgh: still haughty and domineering, except as this version, she is well respected for being a legendary female zombie killer. And for wearing an eyepatch
Set against beautiful scenery of the English countryside, P, P & Z is not lacking in its portrayal of the time period. There is a slight hue to the colors, giving the eerie feeling that something is always just over our shoulders (because there is). Zombies, horse and buggies, cottages, cobblestone, and obnoxious chandeliers co-exist together in a convincing way (remember, we aren’t taking all of this seriously. We’re having fun and laughing our asses off because it’s smart, funny, and clever).
Ok, so the zombies didn’t bring modern music with them when they brought the plague from France, but there is plenty to be heard throughout the film, just not what the majority of us would call music (this movie can’t have it all. Just appreciate what it is, don’t be so prejudiced against what it’s not). There is a soundtrack available, though.
If you can’t figure the genre out, then you shouldn’t be here. However, if you really must know, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a comically romantic thriller that is fun for the whole family over the age of eight-ish.