Cast: Lily James, Sam Riley,Charles Dance, Jack Huston,Matt Smith,Bella Heathcote,Sally Phillips
Director: Burr Steers
Pockmarked with blasphemy and sacrilege, this adaptation of Seth Grahame Smith’s best-selling mashup of Jane Austen’s immortal “Pride and Prejudice” with the horror trope entertains for a good while before floundering in a mindless end credits scene.Clergyman’s daughter Austen must be turning in her grave.
It’s bad enough that middle class mothers like a certain Mrs Bennett (Sally Phillips) have to agonise over finding good mates for their daughters, it’s worse when they have to deal with a deadly disease that sweeps through the island leaving ravening ghouls in its wake. Mrs Bennet doesn’t know it then ( those acquainted with Austen do) but two of her fair and lovely quintet will make advantageous marriages,particularly Elizabeth (Lily “Cinderella” James ) whose initial dislike of the fabulously wealthy Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy (Sam Riley) will, ultimately, convert to abiding affection.
In this mashup, the pair must not only overcome the titular vices,they must also battle zombies which they do with aplomb.Also, each other.Literally. (This scene is an exercise in hilarity in which Liz shows her dexterity with the sword is as sharp as her intellect) It’s not as if Liz doesn’t have suitors, from her cousin Parson William Collins (Matt Smith) to Mr. Wickham (Jack Huston) who shares her dislike of Mr Darcy but not enough to keep him away from nubile young women at balls and presiding deities like the patch-eyed Lady Catherine (Lena Headey) nurture hopes of vanquishing the ghouls and betrothing their offspring to the highly eligible Mr Darcy who takes a dislike to his best friend Mr Bingley’s ( Douglas Booth) attachment to the eldest Bennett, demure blonde Jane (Bella Heathcote).
Not long after,Messrs Darcy and Wickham express their affections to Elizabeth who spurns them both, although it is quite clear one is a cad, the other a perfect gentleman who proposes marriage on bended knee. The rogue suggests running away.This may be acceptable behaviour today, but in days of yore, the roguish resorted to elopement. In the Austen classic, the hapless Bennet who is ensnared by Wickham’s blandishments is saved in the nick of time by Mr Darcy.
This mashup deviates from the source material by factoring in the Biblical End Times, with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and the anti-Christ angle too. Ideally, the story should have called curtains at the double wedding instead of spilling into a scary end-credits scene. As I said somewhere at the beginning of this review,Austen would have turned in her grave.
But I suppose she would have approved of the production design, the gorgeous sets, the period look, and the great cast from Smith’s needy Parson to Mr Bennet (Charles Dance) who believes a woman must have “a thorough knowledge of singing, dancing and the art of war.”