“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” was a strange idea for a book. Author Seth Grahame-Smith took a Jane Austen classic about social repression, marriage, estates, and all of that 19th century England stuff that Austen liked to write about, and he infused it with subtle elements of a zombie story. The military encampment outside of town is explained as being there to combat the zombies, character’s already existing actions are explained as being motivated due to zombie bite, etc… When he talked to FSR about the book, he said that it was about 85% original Austen text and 15% his own crazy additions. Needless to say, an idea so radical drew a lot of attention and Grahame-Smith’s book sold a lot of copies. In order to cash in on the craze, he went on to write “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter”, a similar book that tells the story of Lincoln’s life, but subtly inserts fights with blood sucking fiends at every turn.
Both of Grahame-Smith’s books eventually got optioned to become feature films, but Pride and Prejudice and Zombies hit so many snags in pre-production that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has all but lapped it, getting a script and a director and a cast before any real motion could be made on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. But it looks like that is about to change.
Deadline Meryton is reporting that director Craig Gillespie is close to signing on to direct the film. I think that this is a good decision for two reasons. Firstly, I really loved Gillespie’s first film Lars and the Real Girl. It took a thoroughly ridiculous concept, that of a movie about a man who has a delusional relationship with a love doll, and infused it with so much warmth and humanity that it never came close to turning into the exploitive mess that it might have. Secondly, Gillespie’s next film to be released is a remake of Fright Night, so he’s going to already be in the mindset of blending comedy and horror going into production on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. If Gillespie can take the dark humor and affecting human elements of Lars and the Real Girl and mix them with what he learned about making horror movies on Fright Night, he might be able to do something really special with this adaptation. In my mind the key to success will be maintaining subtlety and treating the original Austen portion of the story with the respect it deserves. Hopefully Gillespie has what it takes.