Starring: Lily James, Sam Riley, Matt Smith
Director: Burr Steers
Running Time: 108 mins
Pride And Prejudice And Zombies is an American film about five sisters in 19th Century Hertfordshire who must face the realities of modern life. Growing up, getting married, and defending themselves from brutal zombies.
Two things I’ve never really cared for: the novels of Jane Austen, and zombie movies. Yet when put together, you get an insane parody full of laughs and drama that is Pride And Prejudice And Zombies. Hilarious at almost every moment, and featuring brilliant action and a heap of excellent performances, I absolutely loved this movie, no matter how silly that might seem.
The premise alone is brilliant. Based on a 2009 novel, the story isn’t just a zombie movie set in 19th Century England, but instead a retelling of Pride And Prejudice, where there just happen to be zombies all around. Therefore, you’re thrown right into the deep end and don’t have to wait for the generic impending zombie invasion for some action, because this film really starts with a bang.
The first scene perfectly embodies everything that I loved about this movie. On the one hand, it feels immediately like a period piece. The costumes and production design is wonderful, and all the characters speak as if this were just Pride And Prejudice. But on the other hand, this is a brilliantly silly and excessively violent zombie parody, throwing in unexpected jump scares and spurting blood right from the start, setting up the brilliantly hilarious tone within seconds.
And then, for the following 70 or so minutes, I couldn’t stop loving this movie. Managing to maintain a consistent tone that balances the fun zombie parody with the Pride And Prejudice parody so well, telling both an action story and a romance story in the most entertaining way, with really well-written dialogue and fantastically well-directed action sequences too, and that left me with a huge grin that I just couldn’t wipe off my face.
What’s more is that the performances are all fantastic too. Normally, good acting isn’t the sort of thing you’d expect in a zombie movie, or a parody for that matter, but everyone is right at the top of their game here. Lily James is excellent in the main role, and shows how good she can be in both a serious romantic lead (because there are a lot of moments where the romance does take centre stage here), and as a great action hero, making her huge fun to watch right the way through.
Also, Matt Smith, Sally Phillips, Douglas Booth and even Lena Headey were brilliant, but my favourite performance of the entire movie has to be Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy. Firstly, the way the character is written here is hilarious, turning the dashing gentleman into a battle-hardened colonel, but the way Riley cements that personality with his piercing stare and gruff voice is brilliant too, and was one of the things that really kept me laughing again and again here.
Of course, it couldn’t last forever, and I do take issue with the final act of this movie. Although it’s not bad, it unfortunately undoes a lot of the good work done earlier in setting up the brilliant tone. In the final twenty minutes, there’s still some good action, but I just didn’t have enough fun, as the film began to turn too much into both a zombie movie, and then a simple Pride And Prejudice retelling.
It was a shame to see the final act disappoint, but even so, I had a huge amount of fun with Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, thanks to its generally fantastic tone, great action, brilliant humour and excellent performances, so that’s why I’ll give it an 8.1.