Last Thursday, Ivy Film Festival presented a free screening of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in Martinos Auditorium. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is cinematic adaptation of the eponymous novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, which is in turn based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Grahame-Smith’s story has an obvious twist: the Bennet girls, though mostly the same, now hunt both husbands and zombies. The film is not slated to hit theaters until February 5, 2016, which was made abundantly clear by the
excessive stringent security measures at the entrance to the screening (phones were taken at the door, security guards were wanding patrons on the way in, and a man with binoculars scanned the audience for the entirety of the showing). For a screening in the midst of finals madness, the turnout was substantial (evidenced by the amount of bagged phones).
The iconic role of Elizabeth Bennett was given to Lily James, known for her work in Downton Abbey and the live-action Cinderella movie. In this rendering, Elizabeth boasts a weapons arsenal — as cutting as her wit — that is used to fight the zombies that roam the English countryside. The only flaw in her casting lies in the lines towards the beginning, taken from the original novel of course, that refer to her as plain or “tolerable” looking, which is pretty unbelievable. The same was true for Kiera Knightley, though.
And yet, despite her alleged homeliness, Elizabeth ends up catching the eye of Mr. Darcy, who is played (with a
gratingly decidedly raspy voice) by Sam Riley, best known for roles in Maleficent and On the Road. Their flirtation follows roughly the same arc as the novel, with a few deviations courtesy of the zombie apocalypse that now threatens all of England.
The films feels rushed at points and there are myriad plot holes, but it’s fundamentally enjoyable. Twists on classic lines and scenes reward real Pride and Prejudice fans — Darcy and Elizabeth’s confrontation in which she rebuffs his proposal escalates to physical rather than verbal combat, while Lady Catherine de Bourgh (played by Game of Thrones‘ Lena Headey) now garners her infamy as the most accomplished zombie killer in England — but the movie should prove enjoyable for all moviegoers alike. It is the updates and twists of this ilk that keep Pride and Prejudice and Zombies fresh and fun even as the plot grows increasingly outlandish.
All in all, for a supernatural action romance-comedy film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies certainly is, as its tagline suggests, “bloody lovely.”