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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Feb 5, 2016

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: The Jane Austen Classic Is Given A New And Horrifying Twist

THE CLASSIC Jane Austen novel, “Pride & Prejudice” (1813), has been filmed several times before as a comedy of manners. This time, they’re doing it with a twist in “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”, based on the reimagining in Seth Grahame Smith’s best-selling book that came out in 2009. He also wrote “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter”.

In writing this zombie novel, Grahame-Smith said he “didn't want to mess with Jane Austen's overall structure, because it's a masterpiece” so he remained faithful to the depiction of the characters. Elizabeth Bennet is the ever rational sister of Jane, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia, who speaks the truth from her heart. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is the moneyed and arrogant man who comes into their town and affects Elizabeth in a way that no man has ever done before.

But the big difference in Grahame-Smith’s story is that these two characters have a lot more to worry about than their verbal disputes. A mysterious plague has fallen upon their village, Meryton, as the dead are returning to life to hunt for human flesh. Now it’s up to the “sharp-tongued and fiercely independent heroine” and the “pompous and privileged zombie slayer” to join forces and rid their land of zombies. And while at it, would they dare acknowledge their feelings for each other?

The big cast serves the movie well and they seem much more witty than the material they’re working on. Lily James (“Cinderella”) as the level-headed heroine Elizabeth Bennet and Sam Riley (“Maleficent”) as her handsome suitor Mr. Darcy make for a “kilig” worthy pair of onscreen lovers. And whenever they're able to do Austen's comedy of manners straight, it's easy to be affected by their slow-build romance. It comes as no surprise that Elizabeth's other would be suitor, the scheming Mr. Wickham (Jack Huston), is responsible for the ongoing zombie apocalypse.

Also giving great support are Douglas Booth as Mr. Bingley, Charles Dance as Mr. Bennet who’s worried about the fortunes of his daughters and Sally Phillips as Mrs. Bennet who’s always worried about the social standing of their daughters. Playing Lily’s charming sisters are Bella Heathcote as Jane, Suki Waterhouse as Kitty, Millie Brady as Mary and Ellie Bamber as Lydia. Also scene stealers are Matt Smith as Parson Collins and Lena Headey as the legendary zombie killer Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

It’s delightful to watch Elizabeth and her sisters strutting their way through a high-society ball in slow motion with swords drawn and slicing down every zombie that bars their way. Another inspired idea in the movie is turning the sequence in which Elizabeth refuses Darcy's first marriage proposal into a literal brawl. It's great fun watching both characters roundhouse-kick each other with what might be considered as dated “hugot” lines. We’re sure lots of viewers will find this old fashioned costume drama turned in a horror-action film quite entertaining.