Pride and Prejudice and Zombies & Patient Zero: Sony Brings Undead Twists to SDCC

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Looking alternately gory, fashionable, romantic and ridiculous, the first footage dropped from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in today’s San Diego Comic-Con Hall H panel displayed surprising grasp of tone. “The only way to go at it is not ever winking once at the audience,” said director Burr Steers, reiterating the earnest effort to make a ridiculous movie with cast Lily James, Bella Heathcote, Matt Smith and Sam Riley.

The extended trailer opened with a striking portrait of the countryside. A misty horseride brings Sam Riley to a parlor, seeking out someone who’s been bitten and is concealing it. The sequence was a humorous bit of paranoia, shifty eyes betraying etiquette until Riley brutally decimates the hidden zombie. Shot from the zombie’s POV, the audience is treated to a visceral, darkly humorous first person perspective of being decapitated.

From there, the clip just as easily transitions to the classic Austen vision of Pride and Prejudice. The longing and frustration is palpable in a film of manners, until it builds to bloody release in battle.,. which is pulpy and silly as hell. “The Bennett sisters are the deadliest of weapons,” said star Lily James after the audience witnessed their slice and dice and sly stowing of daggers in corsets. The stars look terrifically game, playing the melodrama and society, not the goof.

Refreshingly, the zombies look ghoulish and wear their elaborate, layered wardrobe well (as does Lena Headey, who was made for an eyepatched warrior).  If the film is eventually subject to familiar zombie tropes in our very saturated undead market, it seems the early 19th century setting will do the film favors.  

In an entirely different atmosphere, Sony also previewed Patient Zero, a gristly thriller that some classic Italian horror directors would call an infected people movie, rather than a zombie story. Natalie Dormer, Matt Smith and Stanley Tucci star in the film about scientists in the post-apocalypse seeking the Patient Zero of the vicious rabies that’s devastated the world. Smith’s character, who had been previously bitten, interrogates the Infected in their search and finally comes across Tucci, whose eloquent, calm demeanor presents something evolved.

While the rabies and raw photography immediately recalls 28 Days Later, Tucci’s loquacious Infected gave the trailer for Patient Zero tones of work like I Am Legend and The Crazies. Can it match Matheson and Romero? Dormer explained the virus of Patient Zero surges the adrenaline in one’s body, making it aggressive and hyper aware. There’s interesting thought there. Hopefully the themes carry through.

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Weekend: Feb. 21, 2019, Feb. 24, 2019

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