There are so many things wrong with this movie, it’s a little hard to know where to start. Before I do find a starting point (somehow), I want to point out that I really enjoyed the book upon which this movie is based. Seth Grahame-Smith did a really good job, in the book, of weaving a zombie narrative into the original story. In the book, he managed to preserve a lot of Austen’s motifs regarding manners, class, and love.
The movie? Not so much.
Too Damn Fast and Too Damn Changed
The movie takes a book that is supposed to span months and manages to squeeze it into a…what? The time frame of the novel is so compressed, it’s actually really hard to determine the time frame of the movie. To me, it felt like the events of the movie spanned a few weeks.
We’re not given any time to get to know the Bennett sisters, or how close Lizzy is supposed to be to her best friend Charlotte. We’re barely given time to understand Lizzy, let alone her sister, Jane. In fact, there are two Bennett sisters whose names I’m not sure were even mentioned. They were just…there. In the background. Embroidering or whatever.
Certain things were altered or cut entirely from the novel. Mrs. Bennett has a sister and a brother. However, there is only a sister in the movie. Charlotte was supposed to have been bitten by a zombie, which leads to a very tragic end for both her and Mr. Collins (something that would have fleshed out his character beautifully).
Lady Catherine was a completely different person in the movie. For one thing, she’s younger. Secondly, she’s a more decent person. Thirdly, you kind of want to like her when, in Grahame-Smith’s book, you come to despise her. How Lizzy meets Lady Catherine, and the later confrontation, are completely re-written.
The last half of the movie bears ZERO resemblance to the book. In fact, the last half of the movie felt like an entirely different movie altogether.
The Plot Itself Made Little Sense
Mrs. Philips mentions a tour of the Lake Country only for that to never be mentioned again.
Charlotte goes to her fiance’s home with only a female chaperone, rather than with her father, which would have been more proper and truer to the storyline.
The undead could carry on full conversations, trick people, and give sermons. WTF?
In the beginning of the film, Mr. Darcy arrives at Netherfield not to meet Bingley, but to investigate a possible zombie incursion at a whist party. Apparently, this happens before Bingley takes the house for his own. The whist party ends very, very badly. This being the country and all, the news of the disastrous whist party, and the Col. Darcy who failed to prevent it, should have been on the top of everyone’s mind when Bingley took Netherfield as his own.
However, no one recognizes Darcy, either by face or name, when Bingley introduces him at a country dance. When people mention what happened at Netherfield before Bingley’s occupation, no one mentions Darcy. Which makes no sense.
Elizabeth runs off with Wickham to see something outside of London, a trip that would have taken several days, but no one wonders at her having disappeared for so long. And when Wickham asks her to run away with him, she declines out of virtue or propriety or whatever, never mind that she went, alone, on a several day journey with him earlier.
Wickham never speaks to Lydia, which makes his elopement with her perplexing at the very least.
And while this has nothing to do with the plot: there was an extra in the middle ground of one scene who was chewing gum. While gum chewing has existed in the form of chewing bark for thousands of years, modern gum didn’t exist until its invention in 1869…in America. And I’m pretty sure that extra wasn’t chewing bark.
The Acting was…ugh.
Matt Smith was the only person who seemed to understand he was in a comedy. Everyone else is being insanely serious and then along comes Mr. Collins (Matt Smith). Collins is supposed to be a pompous, self-important fellow. Smith certainly pulls that off but you get the feeling he’s also laughing at himself and everything that’s going on around him. His comedic timing, as always, was spot on. He made the movie bearable.
Lily James and Sam Riley were both behaving like they were in a serious movie about zombies. Which got annoying after a while. Philips and Dance, as Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, had none of the loving disdain as portrayed in the book (or any onscreen incarnation of Austen’s novel) and kept acting like they were in an actual BBC miniseries. Universally, many of the lines that came straight out of the book were stilted and badly delivered.
Sam Riley, specifically, was annoying. For one thing, leather is not supposed to creak that much. Secondly, SOMEONE GET THAT MAN A THROAT LOZENGE. He gave Darcy this gravely voice that wasn’t sexy. At one point, Riley clears his throat and it was the most satisfying throat-clearing I had ever heard in my entire life. For the rest of the scene, he actually sounded like a normal human being.
To round off Riley’s abysmal acting was how he played Darcy. Mr. Darcy, whether fighting zombies or hunting fowl, is supposed to be proud and distant. Riley played him as sullen and sulky.
As a side note: was anyone else waiting for Bingley to start sparkling? With his treated hair and model-worthy looks, he was more appropriate for Twilight than Pride and Prejudice (with or without zombies).
Someone Needs to Burn All Copies of this Movie
I thought Eragon was bad but it doesn’t hold a candle to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I have this weird urge to round up all copies of this movie and burn them. It was that bad.
Don’t go see it. Don’t even bother to wait for it to come out on Redbox or Netflix or Hulu or whatever. In fact, let’s pretend it never happened and let us never speak of this again.
Also published on Medium.