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SYNOPSIS: A mysterious plague has fallen upon 19th century England. The land is overrun with the undead, upending genteel Victorian mores and turning the bucolic English countryside into a war zone. No one is safe and friends can instantly turn into ravenous foes. Enter feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James), a master of martial arts and weaponry, independent, clear-eyed and strong-willed. The deadly circumstances of the day force her into an alliance with Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley), a handsome but arrogant gentleman whom she dislikes intensely but has grudging respect for his prodigious skills as a zombie killer. Casting aside personal and social prejudices, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy must unite on the blood-soaked battlefield to rid the country of the zombie menace.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The incongruity of the ludicrous marriage genres - period romance & zombie horror - deserves praise for chutzpa and the execution of the film is of a high standard. The stately homes of the era, the splendidly furnished drawing rooms and the English countryside are all captured with style. The design is splendid, costumes are true to the period (or the undead as the case warrants), the music is appropriately schizophrenic ... even the characters retain their original profiles as Jane Austen wrote them, and perhaps she wishes from her grave that she could rise, zombie-like, to participate ... or maybe not.

Bringing further veracity to the period romance is a fine cast, with Sam Riley a suitably stoic Mr Darcy and Lily James as the Chinese trained martial artist Elizabeth Bennett; think Angelia Jolie in Lara Croft: Tombraider. There are several fights (all too closely shot with handheld) which wish to be martial artistic but they merely graze the genre.

In short, the film is yet another take on the Jane Austen classic, only with undead thrust into it, they being organized to making forays into the more or less genteel lives of these characters, to take over the country. (It's not aliens but zombies ...) They must eat the brain of the living to survive and breed and rule England. If only the undead had been re-imagined in more inventive ways ... but no, they are lumbering ... er... zombies, with by now all-too familiar, bloody gashes and other wounds, and gnarling fingers. Although even new versions of them would not overcome my unshakeable aversion to zombie movies. My silly, literate head can't get around the fact that these creatures have come back from the dead ... and must be killed ... presumably only to rise again? How many times? Black farce is the vehicle for them.

The film never winks at the audience, to its credit, and takes the romance seriously. In the same vein, perhaps we can expect zombie fans to be entertained in endless variations on the idea with films such as Ben Hur and Zombies, Gladiator and Zombies, The Ten Commandments and Zombies and perhaps even The Maltese Falcon and Zombies?

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(US, 2016)

CAST: Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston, Bella Heathcote, Ellie Bamber, Millie Brady, Suki Waterhouse, Douglas Booth, Sally Phillips, Charles Dance, Lena Heady, Matt Smith, Emma Greenwell

PRODUCER: Marc Butan, Sean McKittrick, Brian Oliver, Natalie Portman, Annette Savitch, Allison Shearmur, Tyler Thompson

DIRECTOR: Burr Steers

SCRIPT: Burr Steers (novel by Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith)


EDITOR: Padraic McKinley

MUSIC: Fernando Velazquez


RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 25, 2016

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