Writing/directing duo Marti Noxon and Craig Gillespie will have the opportunity to prove they have a penchant for bloody horror-comedy this summer when their Fright Night remake hits theaters. Hopefully the pair will prove successful in this regard, seeing how they will team up again on the delayed adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Part of what attracted several directors (including Gillespie) to the Zombies adaptation was the script, which was penned by David O. Russell (The Fighter, Three Kings). Although Russell ultimately left the project as director – in part due to budgetary issues – his screenplay for the literary romance/horror mashup is said to be quite sharp and bitingly witty.
Tracking Board is reporting that Russell’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies screenplay is still being used – and that Noxon is simply reworking his draft. The mix of macabre humor and gory zombie violence will certainly remain the same; if anything, Gillespie probably just wanted to inject a bit of his own (artistic) flavor into Russell’s script, and thus brought in Noxon to handle the job.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a very straightforward project that (sort of) loyally retells Jane Austen’s classic tale about the romance between the independent Elizabeth Bennet and the snooty Mr. Darcy. The twist, obviously, is that undead monsters are an ever-present menace that must be (violently) dealt with accordingly.
Much like Seth Grahame-Smith’s Zombies novel combines Austen’s original prose with zombie horror material, Gillespie has spoken before about his plans for the film adaptation to be a stylized but fittingly Gothic venture that mixes historically-accurate production design with bloody action-packed set pieces.
Not everything Noxon touches turns to gold (see: I Am Number Four), but she’s been responsible for some excellent script work in the past on television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Mad Men. Combine that with recent news about how her and Gillespie’s Fright Night is a no-holds-barred horror-comedy and the idea that she’s doing polish work on Russell’s well-regarded script sounds all the more enticing.
Gillespie cannot exactly boast the greatest filmography around, seeing as that he’s only one-for-two, with regards to his feature-length directorial efforts (he helmed Mr. Woodcock and Lars and the Real Girl). He clearly has a thing for more darkly comical and quirky fare, and it’s possible that both Fright Night and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies will cement his status as someone who excels at making horror flicks that are both funny and gruesome. We shall see.
No actors or actresses are currently attached to star in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which is looking to begin production before the year is out. Don’t be surprised if a pair of big names (like previously-rumored candidates Scarlett Johansson and Bradley Cooper) ultimately sign on to play Miss Bennet and Mr. Darcy in the film.