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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Genre Horror
 
Review:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies isn't a spoof. It may sound ridiculous, blending Jane Austen's old world romance with the blood-thirsty underworld of the undead, but it's actually quite a refreshing concept. The idea has been executed with style, carrying the same production values as a period piece drama, while injecting some gory zombie action. The mash-up works suprisingly well, immersing us in a time when the infected roam the countryside in search of human brains, while the living do their best to look alive and protect themselves.

While the fun concept has legs, just like its zombie hoardes, it's stuck in limbo. Not fully committing to comedy, romance, horror or action... we're propelled by the tension of a film trying to decide if it's outright silly or dead serious. Japanese martial arts and sword training for well-to-do women, pet flies that can identify dead flesh and a budding romance between "Van Helsing" and "Alice"... the film walks the line without getting beyond the sweet nothings, much like the courtship in a Jane Austen adaptation.

As a result, it becomes somewhat tiresome… lacking impassioned and definitive characters and the charming performances you’d want from such a young cast and kooky mix. It seems content with leaning on its exotic blend without leaving a full impression. There are a handful of imaginative scenes, which show the true potential of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but these stand out among the rest.

Lily James is demure yet quietly confident, Sam Riley has a cold, calculated edge… but it’s like rigor mortis has set in as they’re unable to generate any heat. The ensemble look the part and commit to their performances, but apart from Matt Smith as a camp and funny Mr. Collins and Lena Headey as an over-the-top Lady Catherine, the actors don’t seem to understand the tongue-in-cheek tone. Instead of employing a knowing wink-wink, inside-joke disposition, they’ve given in to the notion that this is entirely plausible.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies should’ve aligned itself with the satirical tone of Shaun of the Dead, the married espionage action and romantic comedy of Mr. & Mrs. Smith or played up its contemporary edge with rock music like A Knight’s Tale. While writer-director Burr Steers is competent, the genre-mix, jump scare thrills and laughs are underwhelming when you contrast them with what an experienced director like Sam Raimi would’ve been able to achieve.

All in all, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is okay. The genre mix is refreshing for bored Austen and zombie fans, the up-and-coming cast are good, the production values sell the concept and the cinematography is stylish enough to give the film an austere.

Sadly, it's just not adventurous, charming or immersive enough, and the direction seems indecisive when it comes to establishing its own playground. This gives this zombie period piece romance a curious yet increasingly bland overtone that while full of promise, plays it too safe.

The bottom line: Blunt


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