I was 17 when I saw Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (PPZ) on store shelves and my reaction was, “That looks okay.” Zombieland came out the same year and I was like, “Seems fun, but Jesse Eisenberg sucks.” Then Walking Dead premiered and I said, “This is a pretty decent show.” Four seasons later, “Oh, wait, no.” Then Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse came out and with a groan I said, “Just fuck off the edge of my dick.”
Call me a snob or a purist, but when something I like is saturated I start to hate it, like watching your favorite movie over and over. Sooner or later people try things to make what they like seem fresh like a reboot or sequel and zombies have gone the way of vampires. When it comes to the undead, I stick with the old stuff like Romero, Shaun of the Dead, and the Walking Dead comics. The only good example of recent zombie media that comes to mind is Wyrmwood. Is PPZ worthy of incineration or is it a fresh take on the genre?
Following the outbreak of a zombie plague in England, the Bennet sisters are trained to defend what remains of civilization. On the cusp of Armageddon, their parents attempt to marry them off to rich socialites. In finding a suitor, Elizabeth, played by Lily James, develops a grudge against Darcy, played by Sam Riley.
I do not know why I bothered summarizing the plot. If you are even passingly familiar with literature or women for that matter, you know what Pride and Prejudice is about. In PPZ it is the same story in every way, but there just happens to be zombies. Without them, odds are everything would have happened as it did in the source material. And that is the problem; the zombies are inconsequential to the story.
In this world, British aristocracy is in full swing and the undead are a contained inconvenience. It would make more sense if the Bennet sisters had to be married to help assist the Crown with skilled fighters. Actually, why is the aristocracy still around? I would assume after the loss of a strong central government, the outlying hierarchy would resort to feudalism to sustain themselves. That would lead to families marrying off sons and daughters to increase their power base. Why bother taking a familiar story, applying a weird idea, but do nothing else with the details that do not make sense in the context of the changes?
As far as everything else goes, PPZ is all right when it comes to PG-13 zombies. The gore is not impressive, many of the kills are out of frame, and the make-up relies heavily on CGI. The pacing is wonky as it awkwardly moves from one point to another. I understand it is a parody, but even parodies need finesse. Performances were okay with Matt Smith standing out the most as Collins, whereas everyone else just did their time and moved on. Jack Huston was also in it as Wickham, which gives me an excuse to use this clip.
Overall, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was unremarkable. It did not do anything special with the material or the concept of zombie overrunning pre-Victorian England. To be honest, it is mostly average and it does not inspire much feeling in me. Maybe the book does it better and this was the result of adaptation. For “Baby’s First Zombie Movie,” it works as a primer to the harder stuff. But if you are a fan like me, stay home and look for Wyrmwood online.