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Review of ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Emerson chapter.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” So begins Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, the most recent—and quite possibly the most original—adaptation of Jane Austen’s famous novel Pride & Prejudice.  The movie was inspired by a book of the same title, published back in 2009 by Emerson graduate Seth Grahame-Smith.

The premise of this movie is fairly self-explanatory: it takes the characters and plot from Austen’s original novel and throws in a dash of zombies just for fun. At the beginning of the movie, the audience is informed that a terrible plague has swept through England, turning a large percentage of its population into brain-devouring zombies. The survivors have built an impenetrable wall (that is unsurprisingly penetrated quite often) surrounding the countryside and the city of London, leaving only one bridge standing between the city and the rest of the country. When the survivors are threatened by an impending zombie invasion, it is up to Mr. Darcy (resident angsty boy, dressed in a floor-length, black leather coat he refuses to take off for the entirety of the movie) and Elizabeth Bennet (resident badass who would rather die than give up her sword for a wedding ring) to save the day. This movie is filled to the brim with romance, humor, intrigue and, of course, zombie-bashing.

So, what’s good? The cast, for starters. Lily James and Sam Riley were a pleasure to watch as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. They both managed to uphold the essence of these classic characters while adding in a new ferocity demanded by the apocalyptic setting.  The rest of the cast was entertaining as well. Matt Smith’s portrayal of Mr. Collins was particularly well-done, and it had me laughing nearly every time he stepped onscreen. Besides the cast, the action was just as well done. There were plenty of zombie fights to keep you on the edge of your seat, as well as a few explosions and spars as well.  

On a related note, the zombies themselves were a unique element as well—and not just for the fact that they were present. In this world, zombies are able to retain some degree of sentience so long as they do not consume human brains. This ability means that anyone could be zombie in disguise, so you are always trying to guess who’s human and who’s a threat. It adds an exciting tension to the story.

What wasn’t so good? The biggest issue for me was that, after a while, the romance stopped feeling genuine. It didn’t really become a problem until the end of the movie, when all I wanted was for Darcy and Elizabeth to kiss and be happy.  Most of the dialogue they shared was drawn directly from the book, but it lacked the emotional punch it possessed on the page. The movie had to cut down on a great deal of plot in order to fit in all of the zombie fights, so in the end their relationship felt a bit rushed and forced. The same can be said of Jane and Mr. Bingley. Another criticism I had was that there were times I didn’t know whether I was supposed to take scenes seriously, or whether I was supposed to laugh. Not surprising, really, considering the premise of the film.

To say nothing else, this movie is ridiculous in the best way possible. My suggestion? Take it for what it is.  If you go in to this movie expecting a deep, serious romance worthy of critical acclaim, you are going to be disappointed.  But, if you accept P+P+Z for the trope-filled parody it is, you’re sure to have a great time.

Melissa Close is from Waterford, Connecticut. She is majoring in Writing, Literature & Publishing at Emerson College.
Emerson contributor