SHOCK’s Alyse Wax weighs in on much-hyped horror/chick-lit hybrid.
Dont be fooled by the title or the marketing: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES is far more pride and prejudice than zombies.
Based on the book by Seth Grahame-Smith, which in turn is based on the book by Jane Austen, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES follows Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters as they try to balance surviving the zombie apocalypse with finding an appropriate husband. The other Bennet girls are happy to be paired up with a respected, well-off man who can take care of them after their elderly father dies (this was a time period where a woman could not legally own property unless it was left to her by her dead husband), but Elizabeth refuses to marry for anything but love. Her father, who made sure his girls had the best martial arts training, is more concerned about her physical survival, while mom just wants to make sure her girls are cared for.
The zombie plague has taken over the English countryside, and soldiers are getting desperate to keep the zombies at bay. Enter Mr. Darcy, a well-known zombie killer to whom Elizabeth has an instant physical attraction, but is repulsed by his arrogant personality. Another man, Mr. Wickham, shows up and the chemistry between the two is much better. Wickham has a plan for how humans and zombies can live together, side-by-side, which Elizabeth champions. Complicating things is Mr. Collins, first cousin to the Bennet girls, who will marry whichever one he can get his hands on.
Like in Jane Austens original novel, the focus here is on Elizabeths strong-willed nature. Despite the fact that they are in the middle of a zombie scourge, more attention is given to Elizabeths steadfast decision to marry for love. Frankly, the zombies are more of an afterthought. There are no massive hordes of zombies and they dont really feel like they are an immediate threat. In this mythos, zombies can maintain their humanity as long as they don’t consume human brains. So most of them are quite well-behaved.
PRIDE & PREJUDICE was meant as a satire, and there is certainly comedy within PPZ. Unfortunately, the comedy is mostly based on the disparity of proper English girls of good breeding who carry knives in their garters and swords on their backs. This comedy loses its luster after about five minutes. The girls kick ass and after a few minutes, it doesnt seem odd that these genteel ladies can take care of themselves. The humor then switches to the obviously-gay Mr. Collins, but again, that comedy wears thin quickly.
Director Burr Steers doesnt do the subject matter any favors. The action scenes are shot in close-up, which usually indicates a problem with the direction, the choreography, the acting, or a combination of those factors. In a film that should be action-packed, it really slows things down. There is also the strange use of zombie POV, blurry and red-tinged, whose only use seems to be a way to keep the gore off-screen, thus ensuring that coveted PG-13 rating.
PPZ is an interesting concept, in that it takes what is often viewed as stuffy chick lit and gives it something for modern audiences to identify with. Its just not enough.