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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Can it Clear an Exceptionally Low Bar?

Matthew Parkinson | 5 Feb 2016 16:00
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Directed and written by Burr Steers. Produced by Marc Butan, Sean McKittrick, Brian Oliver, Natalie Portman, Annette Savitch, Allison Shearmur, and Tyler Thompson. Release date: February 4, 2016.

A movie like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies doesn't have a very high bar to clear in order to be considered a success. Basically, all it has to do is be better than Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - itself not a good movie - and we'll all look upon it favorably. It works in a film's favor when expectations are so low that it would almost have to actively work hard in order to disappoint. So, with that said, I'm happy to report that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies cleared the limbo-level bar set for it walk over. Congratulations, movie, on not being atrociously bad.

I jest. Most of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is just passable enough to almost be called a good movie even without a lowered expectation going in. The film, based on Seth Grahame-Smith's novel of the same name - which is a parody of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice - does basically everything that you'd expect, except perhaps in how few zombies it actually features. That is, until the end, when they all come out of the woodwork to give us a climactic chase scene.

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The story? The Bennet sisters have been trained for years to fight zombies, because zombies exist and it's either that or become "cultured," which their father (Charles Dance) didn't think would keep them alive. Smart man. But he's now getting on in years, and thanks to the laws of the time, the estate can only be inherited by a man. So, it's time to marry off the women! Jane (Bella Heathcote) is the object most desired, even though our lead is Elizabeth (Lily James). Jane's potential suitors are numerous, although the primary one is Mr. Bingley (Douglas Booth). Elizabeth finds herself spending a decent amount of time rejecting proposals from men previously turned down by her sister - as well as feuding with Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley), whom she's determined is an awful person.

So, where do the zombies fit in? Well, they're a frequent topic of conversation. They serve as a way to interrupt scenes that otherwise don't seem like they're going anywhere. They give us reasons for characters to always be in potential danger, since zombies can pop up anywhere - and some of them doing even behave like classical zombies. Some of them don't even seem dangerous - they can even speak. The film tries to hide what exactly is going on, so I won't reveal it here, but it likely won't come as a surprise. Basically, the zombies wind up functioning as another lower class, one which the rich people of the times want nothing to do with. After all, it wouldn't be Pride and Prejudice if there weren't class issues to deal with.

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