Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

 

starstar

 

Jane Austen returns from the dead in a spoof about class warfare and the undead that falls 

flat on its pretty face.

 

Mr Darcy has appeared on screen in a variety of guises, not least by Colin Firth in four manifestations (if you include the upcoming Bridget Jones's Baby). However, Darcy has never been played with such insipidity as here. In a sterling cast, Sam Riley gets to play the arrogant noble with a banality barely offset by a touch of laryngitis, which makes him sound like Jack Hawkins. Far better is Lily James as Elizabeth Bennet, adding to the actress’s recent catalogue of corseted turns, from Lady Rose MacClare in Downton Abbey by way of Cinderella to Natasha Rostova. The film also looks sensational, lovingly lit by Oscar-nominee Remi Adefarasin at such notable locations as Hatfield House, Syon House and West Wycombe House. 

 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Blink or you'll miss it: Bella Heathcote (as Jane Bennet) dispenses with an extra 

 

On many levels, Burr Steers' film is a faithful rendition of Jane Austen’s 1813 classic, give or take the addition of a zombie onslaught. The problem, though, is that this adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s literary parody is neither fish nor fowl. As Jane Austen, it lacks the author’s humour and understated passion, and as a zombie romp it is in deficit of the guffaws of Shaun of the Dead, the thrills of World War Z and the sheer horror of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and its sequels. 

 

Enormous fun could have been had here, but even the opening take on the immortal line, “it is a truth universally acknowledged…” is swallowed by Fernando Velázquez’ obstreperous music. To think what sport Quentin Tarantino would have had with this material, but Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is not fun, it’s not scary, it’s just baffling. If they decide to film Ben H. Winters’ Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, I should run for cover.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston, Bella Heathcote, Douglas Booth, Matt Smith, Charles Dance, Lena Headey, Suki Waterhouse, Emma Greenwell, Sally Phillips.

 

Dir Burr Steers, Pro Sean McKittrick, Allison Shearmur, Natalie Portman, Annette Savitch, Brian Oliver, Marc Butan and Tyler Thompson, Screenplay Burr Steers, Ph Remi Adefarasin, Pro Des David Warren, Ed Padraic McKinley, Music Fernando Velázquez, Costumes Julian Day.

 

Cross Creek Pictures/Sierra Pictures/QC Entertainment/Handsomecharlie Films/MadRiver Pictures/Head Gear Films-Lionsgate UK Ltd.

107 mins. UK/USA. 2016. Rel: 11 February 2016. Cert. 15.