- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 2, 2016

Director Burr Steers’ cinematic adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s parody novel, which mixed Jane Austen’s classic literature with an invasion by flesh-eating ghouls, bombed at the box office earlier this year.

However, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Rated PG-13, $35.99, 108 minutes) rises again in Blu-ray hoping to tempt lovers of the undead, if they attacked “Downton Abbey.”

That’s a tall creative order to fill for viewers as we settle into 19th century England and explore the fate of the five Bennett sisters, each trained in martial arts and weaponry, sworn to fight the macabre menace and looking for the perfect husbands.

The plot sounds pretty appealing while further enhanced by the pesky zombie apocalypse turning London and its surrounding countryside into a battleground with uninfected humans hiding amongst barricaded fortresses.

Yet, the dialogue chokes the fun with viewers trapped in a slightly stodgy Austen novel despite listening to animated corpses speaking the King’s English.

The ensemble cast — featuring Lily James as Elizabeth Bennet, Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy, Matt Smith as Mr. Collins, Lena Headey as Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Jack Huston as Mr. Wickham — delivers the slightly hard-to-decipher, quick fleeting quips slathered in frantic, heavily proper accented words.

To put the linguistic pacing into perspective, the 16-year-old male that I was watching with fell asleep midway through the film.

A saving grace to the effort is a new take on zombies that has some level of intelligence, even plotting large-scale attacks and setting traps before eventually devolving into lumbering brain-eaters.

However, the true zombie lover will find the PG-13 rating horrifying as it guarantees less gore.

He might feel slightly pacified by an occasional exploding head or stunning-looking ghoul — most impressive being a rotting mother and her undead child.

Unfortunately, overall, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” never attains the wonderful absurdity I could have hoped for with this type of bizarre mash-up.

It never finds the humorous potential of Roman Polanski’s “The Fearless Vampire Killers,” or the strange excellence that one might enjoy in a 1960s Hammer Film effort with its penchant for campy horror.

A digital transfer does allow viewers to beautifully appreciate the period costuming as the girls stomp on the heads of the zombies and explore the lovely countryside locations, rich in flora and greenery, brought forth with a colorful saturation.

Best of the scant extras are a quartet of highly promotional featurettes, clocking in at less than 30 minutes total.

They arrive loaded with gushing interviews from cast and key production personnel focused on the Bennet sisters as warriors, romance amidst a zombie apocalypse, a brief exploration of delivering the dialogue of the Austen classic and a much-too-short look at the crafting of the monsters.

Let’s ignore the unfunny gag reel and Mr. Smith free styling dialogue outtakes based on his love of scones.



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