If you haven’t heard, the movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies comes out next year. To be honest, I read the book when it first came out in 2009, and I hated it, though I think it’s because I couldn’t get my head around the writing style. Perhaps the best way to read the book is to read it as a parody of Jane Austen rather than a Jane Austen book with zombie slayers thrown in. It’s not meant to be a serious novel about zombie slaying in the 19th century.
So what is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? Obviously it’s Pride and Prejudice during the zombie apocalypse. The five Bennet sisters are known for their beauty and fighting skills, and Mr. Darcy for “having slaughtered more than a thousand unmentionables since the fall of Cambridge.” The famous lines are the same, as are the general plot points, but zombies make a nice, and absurd, addition. Here are some examples of the hilarity you’ll find in the book:
“As Mr. Darcy walked off, Elizabeth felt her blood turn cold. She had never in her life been so insulted. The warrior code demanded she avenge her honour. Elizabeth reached down to her ankle, taking care not to draw attention. There, her hand met the dagger concealed beneath her dress. She meant to follow this proud Mr. Darcy outside and open his throat.”
“The mere stateliness of money or rank she could witness without trepidation, but the presence of a woman who had slain ninety dreadfuls with nothing more than a rain-soaked envelope was an intimidating prospect indeed.”
“Five daughters brought up at home without any ninjas! I never heard of such a thing.”
“You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared the slightest grief which I might have felt in beheading you, had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner.”
After rereading the book, I’m really excited for the movie. They might ruin it; the director says they’re playing it straight and not making it into a zombie B-movie (oooh SyFy would do a hilarious rendition of this idea, I think). In movie form, a serious Jane Austen film where people are being attacked by zombies sounds questionable. There’s a possibility that the combination of Regency dress/manners meshes awkwardly with the execution of the ninja fight scenes. Some of the costumes don’t look completely historically accurate, which might be an unfair complaint when we’re talking about a zombie film, but the fashion history-lover in me shudders at the sight of the ruffly bloomers.
Nonetheless, we get Lily James (Lady Rose in Downton Abbey and Cinderella in the live-action Cinderella) as Elizabeth Bennet and Matt Smith as Mr. Collins. Mr. Darcy is played by the bird guy from Maleficent, so I guess weird Disney fans have the opportunity to ship Cinderella with Maleficent’s servant. Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones is supposedly in it too, as are a few people from Mr. Selfridge, Bridget Jones, and the adaptation of Austen’s Lady Susan that’s being called Love and Friendship. I don’t really recognize anyone besides Lily James and Matt Smith, but all the young faces in the pictures serve as a great reminder that P&P is about a bunch of teenagers.
In short, the book is hilarious, and the movie will probably have some fun scenes when Elizabeth fights off zombies while wearing a ballgown. The movie comes out in February 2016, so you have time to read the book and possibly the prequel and sequel before then (I haven’t read Dawn of the Dreadfuls nor Dreadfully Ever After so I can’t say if they’re good or bad). Read P&P&Z. It’s definitely worth it.