“More Austen than thou…” Perhaps you have come across this type (which I shall refer to as a MATT) in the world of Jane Austen appreciation. MATTs can be exasperating, annoying, pompous and relentless. Understand, gentle reader, that I make this claim from a place not only of observation, but also of guilt.
Just watch my eyes expand several sizes as I cover my mouth and bite my tongue when anyone says Jane Austen movies rock but don’t bother reading the books.
So here is the thing about Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. I haven’t read the book. The mash-up book, that is. Pride And Prejudice was too dear to me to consider adding zombies so I had no desire to read that book.
I certainly wasn’t planning to see the film. I’m not good with gore and zombies are— messy. Yet, the opportunity arose to see the film and there I sat with a pashmina at the ready to cover my face when things got gruesome. And believe me, things did get gruesome.
But once I got over my MATT attitude, I started to let go, get over my own self, stop comparing and follow this tale to the end of the journey. It is a wild ride!
Forget what you know about the Regency. Shake it off when one unmarried young lady is invited to chaperone another.
Try not to facepalm when confronted by many of the costumes and generous use of elastic. Don’t bang your head on the seat in front of you when Lady Catherine shows up looking like a hottie from “Black Sails”.
Stay with it when the proposal devolves into something more painful than a blow to Lizzie’s dignity. Just suspend all that and take this movie for what it is. A group of people (author, writer, producer, director, etc.) who really must love Pride and Prejudice took our beloved story gave it their own enormous twist, endowing our favorite characters with unexpected accomplishments to vanquish enemies even more menacing than Napoleon.
Adding zombies to the mix raises the stakes immeasurably. Wickham holds within his power the possibility of ruining much more than reputations.
Darcy is not only concerned with justice, friendship and his heart’s desire, but about saving humanity.
Lizzy is not just clever and lovely, she’s dangerous.. and a well trained survivor. Mr. Collins is still no match for her.
It’s a zombie story. Just go to have fun. The trailers for the film looked serious and foreboding, but the film itself had a lot of comedy.
Even some of the violence was played for laughs. The Austen devotees at the screening I attended were the ones laughing the loudest at the tongue in cheek nods to the television and film adaptations.
When Mr. Darcy strips off his long black leather coat (which was a sexy costume faux pas that’s much easier to forgive) and prepares for a dip in the pond, the wink and the nudge to every Firth fan is understood.
There is quite a lot of humor in this vein that only Austen fans will appreciate. This film was not just funny—but suspenseful. Even if you can recite passages of Pride and Prejudice you won’t know where the next turn in this tale will take you. A few times, I caught myself forgetting to breathe. This was all a lot more fun than I had expected.
As California dance master John Hertz often tells us, “I don’t own the Regency”. None of us, as much we love her, own Jane Austen. Some avid Janeites indulge in the occasional Regency romance novel, Jane Austen mystery, fanciful sequel or updated adaptation. Why not zombies? Who knows if “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” will lure new readers to the classic Jane Austen novel which has charmed us for generations. A hideous zombie may lead them straight to the library…and the MATTS everywhere will rejoice.