Written by Madeleine Kenney.
Pride and Prejudice.
You don’t normally expect these two nouns in the same sentence, much less a movie title, but the newly released Pride and Prejudice and Zombies movie has somehow frankensteined two radically different genres into something brilliant.
To bring everyone who is not in the Jane Austen fandom up to speed, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies the parody novel was published in 2009, and depending on who you are talking to, either caused Jane Austen to roll in her grave or created something bloody awesome. The credit for this avant-garde mash up is Seth Grahame-Smith and of course the great Ms. Austen herself since the novel and movie adaptation have direct quotes from the original text. You may recognize Mr. Grahame-Smith as the author of Abraham Lincoln-Vampire Slayer as well. Perhaps we can expect Mr. Grahame-Smith to produce more supernatural editions of the great classics.
Now, the movie.
I myself had reservations about this film, but as a lover of all things created or related to Jane Austen, I felt it my civil duty to see it at least once. So, there I was in the theater on a busy Friday evening, not quite sure how to feel or what to expect. Digging into my snuck-in sour patch kids (because theater prices are ridiculous), I listened to those around me showing off the various “I Heart Mr. Darcy” merch they were sporting. I felt very much at home in this nerdy crowd but feared I was about to watch something that might scar me for life. Nevertheless, as a Lilly James fan, I reasoned it couldn’t be that bad.
Ladies and gentlemen, the movie was thrilling. Now keep in mind that this is a parody and a zombie film, therefore the pace is quick, the plot shaky, and boob shots rampant.
However, the Bennett ladies are transformed into warrior women who aren’t afraid to whip their daggers out at the dinner table, Mr. Collins is somehow made into an endearing simpleton, and Mr. Darcy rocks a leather trench coat. And remember all of those moments, when you secretly wanted Elizabeth to fight with more than her witty tongue? When you desperately wanted to reach through the pages and strangle a character for being chauvinistic? Well, this movie certainly satisfies those urges in the best way possible.
Even with these thirst-quenching scenes, nothing can quite prepare you for the colorful character Grahame-Smith created of Lady Catherine de Burgh. Our previously prim and proper Duchess is an unapologetic, testosterone-filled battle commander who rocks an eye patch and pantaloons. This choice of portraying not only Lady Catherine but the Bennet sisters as masculine, take-no-prisoner warriors is a direct contrast to the time-period and gives the movie a distinct feminist vibe. While touting the feminist flag is commendable, this version of feminism is, in my opinion, the simplest and most consumable way to re-brand this Victorian-era novel into another media hit. Unfortunately, feminist marketing has turned a once proud philosophy into a simple equation of putting a woman in a sexy fighter’s outfit and giving her a weapon.
Alas! Let us move on and talk about the zombies.
Yes, for all you zombie fans, there is gore, beheadings, questionable bodily fluids, and sword fighting throughout. At its heart, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a zombie film and the traditional stereotypes of this genre contribute to the somewhat non-existent plot. I will admit that I jumped out of my seat more times than I care to document in this article and had to cover my eyes in horror. Catching glimpses between my fingers, I was able to discern the innovative way the movie filmed the beheadings and action shots. It inspired both fascination and disgust: a rare combination.
For all of those couples that constantly compromise between action and romance, here is your solution. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies embraces the grotesque while staying true to a time honored classic romance novel.
photo courtesy: horrorfreaknews.com