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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Year: 2016
Production Co: Cross Creek
Director: Burr Steers
Writer: Burr Steers/Jane Austen/Seth Grahame-Smith
Cast: Lily James, Sam Riley, Bella Heathcote, Suki Waterhouse, Charles Dance

I haven't read the book on which this movie is based but from what I know it was a successful mash-up. Not just because it took two universes from culture and entertainment that couldn't be more different (the horror and sci-fi of zombies and the genteel romantic dramas of Jane Austen) and put them together, but that it took pains to successfully meld elements from each world.

For example, Mr and Mrs Bennet aren't simply consumed with grooming their daughters to be marriage material now they've come of age, but training them to defend themselves against the legions of the undead besieging England during the early 19th century.

If the book combined such elements half as well as the film it must have been a success, and the film does so to a degree that makes it the best it could possibly be given the premise.

Like in Austen's novel the five Bennet sisters, most notably Elizabeth (Lily James), are all of marrying age, and while their fussy mother has her eye on the two eligible bachelors in the country estate the Bennets call home – Bingley and Darcy (Sam Riley) – the girls practice the martial arts and weaponry skills they've acquired in Asia to fight off what seems to be growing numbers of zombies stalking the countryside.

When Elizabeth and her sisters fight off an onslaught at the ball Mrs Bennet has sponsored in order to showcase her daughters' beauty, both Bingley and Darcy fall for her, and it sparks off the fractious relationship between the feisty heroine and the famously dark and brooding Darcy (he is so in this universe because of his career as a zombie hunter).

In this version of Austen's story, the mysterious Mr Wickham (Jack Huston) has a darker agenda involving a hospital and the transplanting of human brains into zombie bodies, and when a zombie uprising sees London overtaken, it sets the stage for both the final battle and the consummation of Elizabeth and Darcy's relationship.

I'm not sure what the people who thought so little of this movie were expecting. The premise itself is a strange pitch as fans from neither element of the mash-up would be the least interested in the other, but there's a tone of wry humour about the film rather than in it that lets the movie just tell its story with a straight face when it could have been a Zucker brothers-type spoof.

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