Damsels in distress

Lily James and Bella Heathcote in Screen Gems' PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES.

Lily James and Bella Heathcote star in “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.”

Zombies — love them or hate them, they’re everywhere and don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Their latest blood-stained marking is on “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” directed by Burr Steers and based on the New York Times best-selling novel by Seth Grahame-Smith. In theatres today, the film stars Lily James (“Downton Abbey”), Sam Riley (“Maleficent”), Bella Heathcote (“Dark Shadows”), Douglas Booth (“Jupiter Ascending”) and Matt Smith (“Doctor Who”).

A spunky rendition of Jane Austen’s beloved novel of class and gender norms, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is sure to delight lighthearted fans of Pride and Prejudice.

Set in 19th Century England, the movie follows the Bennet family and their leading daughter, Elizabeth. The Bennet girls are enticed with finding suitable husbands, but are also focused on fighting off those afflicted with the plague that has fallen upon their country. Equipped with guns, knives and martial arts skills to kill zombies, Elizabeth and her sisters protect the countryside but also fall into a web of love and misunderstanding with the newcomers and affluent Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy.

So the story follows the original tale, but with a few twists and a lot more violence than an ordinary Victorian maiden could probably handle.

The film is pure entertainment that uses Austen’s witty and truth-revealing lines to add depth. In fact, what sets this film apart from other human and supernatural love stories—among the likes of “Twilight” or “Blood and Chocolate” — is the author herself.

The element of zombies, although quite scary at times, is comedic in combination with proper English. And the plot, dialogue and the zombies themselves are fused perfectly to shed new light on what Austen viewed during her time as problematic.

Other than the film reusing the familiar shots of the 2007 film version of “Pride and Prejudice,” starring Keira Knightly, the film is clever in its cinematography showcasing the fight scenes.

For those who take Austen seriously and rigidly, James believes that the zombies will contribute a new element of appreciation.

“Some of the scenes and relationships in the book become heightened, become really clear,” James said in a recent college conference call. “Like Lizzie Bennet gets to beat the crap out of Mr. Darcy, which is really a sort of physical expression of all her sexual frustration.”

“Jane Austen’s all about female empowerment, and this film is too,” Heathcote said.

Whether viewers are Austen purist or not, the film is sure to deliver a good time.

“I just hope the audience has fun,” Smith said.

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