Studio: Sony (1hr. 40 min.)
Plot: A retelling of Jane Austin’s classic novel – with zombie.
Cast: Lily James, Sam Reilly, Lena Headey, Jack Huston, Matt Smit Charles Dance, Douglas Booth
Bottom Line: ***
By Jon Rutledge
Once in a while, a film takes a risk by weaving two very different story elements together. “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” brings the drama of the 19th Century aristocratic life to a dark and undead setting of a zombie horror film. This is a risk that surprisingly pays off because I don’t know if I will ever be able to watch “Pride & Prejudice” without missing the backdrop of the Zombie apocalypse.
The film carefully follows the spirit of the Jane Austin classic and adds the zombie elements without making them seem campy or out of place. The sets and costumes and even the zombie effects are all top-notch. There were no corners cut in this production and it shows in the quality.
Lily James (Downton Abby) carries herself with elegance, grace and bad-ass fighting skills as Elizabeth Bennet. She is such a strong character that her presence is hard to compete with. Sam Riley (Maleficent) is pared with James as Mr. Darcy. Together their screen presence and chemistry are as at home fighting zombies as they are dancing at the ball. The romance between them, like other versions of this story, is the focus of the film. Fighting the differences in class, standing and the undead, they find each other in the end.
Matt Smith (Doctor Who) does a spectacular job as the odd Parson Collins. He adds just the right amount of humor to the already quirky character.
There are a few flaws with the film, unnecessary soft focus, overly ambitious with the color correction and a few bad cutaway shots but nothing terribly distracting. Aside for these few minor problems it was a success. Yes, I said the zombie drama is a win. It is now among my favorite zombie films.
Director (Burr Steers) shows talent at bringing two very unlikely genres together in a way that strengthens them both. By only taking liberties with the story to accommodate the zombie elements, he gives us a new and fresh way to look at the classics. You won’t have to eat any brains to enjoy this smart film.
This column was printed in the February 21, 2016 - March 5, 2016 edition.