Director: Burr Steers
Writers: Burr Steers (screenplay), Jane Austen (Quirk Books novel)
Stars: Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston
Plot: Five sisters in 19th century England must cope with the pressures to marry while protecting themselves from a growing population of zombies.
Running Time: 1 Hour 48 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 43% Audience: 44%
Why I Watched It: Did you check out that title?
Random Thoughts:Let’s make this clear when you see that title you think oh my this is a B-Movie camp thing that Roger Corman is producing and guess what, you’d be wrong it’s not that, well it’s mostly not that. This is a true mash up of period piece romance and a zombie movie. Yes you read that right.
What I Liked: This film kind of took be aback cause I thought this would be more campy and kind of tongue in cheek but it’s not so about 15 minutes in I realised this was a zombie movie set in a Jane Austen world, I’ll give them credit it’s different and they do try to combine two things that really don’t go together.
The cast is game with the standout being Lily James, she’s a strong character and she’s very likeable and she does try very hard to be a badass. I didn’t like Sam Riley for the longest time but I’m coming around on him, he’s a bit miscast here but he does play off James very well and he handles the action pretty well. I also kind of liked that they cast this as if it was a classic period piece, sure there’s genre actor in it but as we now the British have great range, on paper look at that cast and you’d think Pride and Prejudice before you thought Walking Dead.
I did enjoy the stuff with the zombies, the horror part was handled pretty well, there’s a couple of zombie fights that we not only done well but shot well. I did enjoy seeing the 5 sisters being zombie hunters if you will it was a fun twist. I also want to single out Matt Smith, even though I thought he was in another movie he was the only thing funny about the film and he was enjoyable.
What I Didn’t Like:To put it bluntly the mash up didn’t work, taking two things together is fun and it’s fun to see if it would work, chocolate and peanut butter great idea, Ice Cream and Shrimp not so much and this is the main problem with the film that the two genres are fighting each other. The period romance slows down the zombie film and the zombie film just doesn’t sit well in the period setting since they are really trying to do Pride and Prejudice. The film does drag because of it, we get these fights and then we have to sit through period piece romance, we have to hear these women need husbands or they’ll be left with nothing yet they can kick ass and kill zombies. It simply doesn’t work together. Of the two I liked the zombie part better and if they focused more on it the film might have worked.
They also wasted some good actors honestly Charles Dance has nothing to do, and really does not play a huge part in either genre, Lena Headey is stunt casting and as much as I like her she doesn’t work here, she didn’t have a handle on this character and honestly she’s barely in it. Jack Houston was an odd fit, not a bad actor but he didn’t work well in this role and he was playing a cliched plot twist more than a character.
The other major problem is tone, of course that would be a problem a Jane Austen movie has to have a different tone than a zombie movie but within both of those the tone is off, like I said the zombie stuff is played straight yet the Headey character is more of a cartoon and Matt Smith brings silly humour to a dour period piece. Also the ending is very bad and yes silly but again not campy silly, it’s way to earnest for it’s own good and so heavy handed. The ending almost sinks the film for me.
Final Thoughts: It was an interesting mess/failure, failure is harsh but in the end it didn’t work but they tried so good for them. It’s an alright watch just for the curiosity of it.