Is Matt Smith The Only Reason to See Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?

This weekend sees the release of the much anticipated (by me, anyway) Jane Austen inspired, Matt Smith scene-stealing RomZomCom, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I’ve seen the trailers and have now read the reviews… which makes me want to see it all the more! Not only am I fan of zombies and Matt Smith, but I also… errr… OK, I’m not a Jane Austen fan, but I do love films that subvert an archetype in a new and twisty fashion.

Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland and last year’s Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse all do wonderfully funny things with the zombie genre and I’m hoping that Pride and…etc does the same. It turns the Bennet sisters into kick-ass zombie killers in a world that became plagued with zombies after The Black Death. The book (this version – the one with zombies in) was written by Seth Grahame-Smith who also gave us Dark Shadows and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

So, on to the reviews! The Radio Times seemed to enjoy it a great deal and declare that Matt Smith is the surprise star of the film with his bumbling “odd” parson providing a welcome dose of familiarity and warmth. A previous RT article quotes the magnificent Charles Dance (co-starring as the Bennet patriarch) as saying Smith’s turn as the pompous cleric Mr Collins will have audiences rolling in the aisles.

“It’s very funny. Gorgeous people like Lily James and Lena Headey from Game of Thrones are in it and Matt Smith who is hysterical, actually, as Mr Collins. He’s so funny, Matt.”

The Radio Times reviewer didn’t like Mr Darcy, though…

It’s a bit of a struggle to fall for Sam Riley’s Darcy because the sexy sulky aristocrat’s leathers squeak when he walks and every time he talks it comes out all raspy. Someone get the man a lozenge.

I don’t know about you lot out there in Kasterborland, but this makes me want to see it all the more!

Den of Geek weren’t quite so keen on it, though, claiming that the horror elements of the story just didn’t work. The reviewer just didn’t seem to “get” the contrast of period drama juxtaposed with classic zombie gore.

It’s not a good start when you sit down for a film and you’re not quite sure who the intended audience is. The final third of Pride And Prejudice And Zombies’ title could possibly scare off period drama lovers, while the first two parts probably aren’t the most alluring prospect to hardened horror fans. The end product? It won’t be either camp’s new favourite film, but it does have its moments.

Who’s it for? Subversives like me, of course! They did however have great fun watching Matt Smith providing very British humour and great physical comedy – which is what we loved about his turn as the Doctor (and his great acting skills, as well). He’s probably the saving grace for this film if, like the DoG reviewer you just don’t “get it”.

Steadily stealing the show along the way is Matt Smith. While the rest of the film tries to imagine what Pride & Prejudice would look like as an American horror/action hybrid, Smith’s Collins keeps one foot firmly in British humour at all times. He feels like he’d be more at home in Carry On Up The Zombie Apocalypse – asking for more scones at inopportune moments and taking a huge pratfall in a very serious scene – which is a welcome change of pace to the action that dominates the film.

I now want someone to go and make Carry On Up The Zombie Apocalypse, though. So, thanks to DoG for putting that absurd notion in my head!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

The Mary Sue reviewer seemed to like it even less than Den of Geek. Which is sad. This is someone else who “can’t imagine who Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is meant for.” I said it earlier! Is no one listening??? It’s meant for people like me who like the absurd! I mean Regency period young ladies trained by their father as martial artists to kill zombies while their mother wants to marry them off… Brilliant!

I suspect the Mary Sue reviewer was rather prejudiced against this adaptation as she claims that the Austen book is one of her two favourite books (it’s her annual beach read, apparently…). She goes on to point out that this adaptation lacks a lot of the humour of the original original book and the Bennet sisters are fetishized as gun-toting ninjas – this may well be true, but let’s see how this pans out in the context of a zombie movie. She does, however, concur with other reviewers in pointing out Matt Smith’s star turn as Parson Collins:

Only Matt Smith really seems well-versed in his character (Mr. Collins) and leans into the comedy of both the new and old text.

Oh, dear. Empire Online didn’t much care for the film, either.

There are some decent action beats in the effects-packed last reel, as our heroes head to London for a desperate stand-off against the zombie hordes. But they can’t dispel the feeling that this is a misshapen venture, a horror-comedy without much in the way of laughs or scares. And zombie purists beware: these biters don’t just run. They talk too.

Although, once again, they love Matt Smith!

Matt Smith steals the show as the silly Mr. Collins, milking lines like, “Oh fuddle,” for all they’re worth.

At last! Someone actually liked it! And not just the bits with “show stealing” Matt Smith “as the hilariously full-of-himself clergyman Mr. Collins”! Entertainment Weekly end their brief review with this glowing praise

If more inventive than scary, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies breathes fresh life into the hugely popular, but now desperately predictable, undead genre. The result should appeal to Austen aficionados and horror hounds alike—which is not a sentence you get to write too often.

So, is Matt Smith the only reason to see Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? He seems to be the main reason according to the majority of reviewers, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy it thoroughly, regardless.

Go and see the trailer here and then tell me you don’t want to see the film!



Simon Mills

About

Simon was born at an early age and has loved Doctor Who since even before then. Truth be told, it was those pesky giant maggots and the dandy in the frilly shirt that got him hooked... but it was the hair, teeth, eyes and scarf that made him stick around to this very day. When not writing for Kasterborous, Simon indulges in his passion for karate training and listening to (and writing about) some seriously heavy rock and metal music. Not at the same time, though, as that can lead to serious injury and/or lawsuits.


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