Pride and Prejudice and Zombies gives us a setting we didn’t know was needed: 19th Century England during the regency era plagued with a disease. Imagine that this disease gives its victims a hunger for flesh. Could you survive? Could you thrive? And most importantly, could you love?
Canon in Z
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is based off the novel of the same name, written by Seth Grahame-Smith, which itself was a parody novel to the literary classic Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. This New York Times best seller was part of a series of mash-up titles that combined public domain works with “popular fanboy characters.” Another take on this concept from the same writer was Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which was also recently adapted to the big screen.
Patient Publisher Zero
What separates this movie from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is the treatment of the original points of inspiration. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter felt more like a dedication to the 16th president of the United States and a reverence to the biographical works written about him. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, however, feels like the opposite. Despite its serious nature, the film is fully award that it is a parody and should be taken as such. That is not to say there’s nothing there for hardcore Pride and Prejudice fans; you will hear familiar lines and see plot points come to similar situations. While the blood of Jane Austen’s words do pump though the zombie filled romp, the movie still takes the beats of the origin story and spins them on their bloody, recently-decapitated heads. While most of the similarities end there, you will find interesting parallels between the modern and classic narratives.
Admittedly, there is an evolution on the themes present in the original academic standard. Classicism, for example, remains strong in the film but is seemingly taken to the next level with the addition of zombies. At times, characters would speak as if zombies were the lowest class of citizen instead of monsters or enemies. It’s as if the zombies are a metaphor for various issues we face in the realm world. Another observation made was how modern feminism was applied to an era that was lacking in this department. There was a high level of importance in marrying someone wealthy and looking presentable for a suitor. Instead, the film decides it’s far more important to learn survival skills and the ability to defend yourself. In terms of women’s empowerment, I think this is what Zack Snyder’s Suckerpuch was trying to deliver, but in a less subtle way.
The Waltzing Dead
A dark and dreary tone is immediately established in the beginning and is carried throughout the entire film. This movie was rarely confused about what it was, impressive considering its balance between parody and tribute to the source material, but it did take time for me to catch up and understand the events on screen. Prior to attaining that understanding, I was then met with an extensive exposition by the narrator that served as an excuse for the katana swinging, kung-fu fighting, and other Asian influences I would eventually see. After that, things went from Belle to 300 real quick. A period piece, this is not one.
In spite of this, you do get lighter moments, yetthey come off as surreal at times. The biggest highlight of the movie is definitely Doctor Who’s Matt Smith. He stole every scene with his performance of Mr. Collins. I’m sure many will see his flamboyant take on the character as the light-hearted saving grace to an otherwise semi-grim tale. It seemed apparent that he greatly enjoyed his role in the film.
The Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Before the Fall
While I definitely enjoyed watching this movie, this may be the first time I’ve ever questioned the remix/mash-up subculture that exists in modern society. Though I do believe that sacred cows must be sacrificed to achieve innovation, I do feel Pride and Prejudice was slaughtered for just innovation’s sake. While this did make me think about the future of copyright and related issues afterwards, the gory ritual elated me nonetheless.