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Image of film still Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

House of Detention in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Date posted: 01.02.2016

Jane Austen's classic 'Pride and Prejudice' gets a horrifying revision in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Based on the 2009 parody novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, who co-credits Austen, the comedy-horror is written and directed by Burr Steers (17 Again) with Natalie Portman (A Tale of Love and Darkness) on producer duties. The high-profile cast includes Lily James (Cinderella), Lena Headey (Game of Thrones), Charles Dance (The Imitation Game), Matt Smith (Doctor Who) and Sam Riley (Maleficent).

Zombie nation

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

A mysterious plague is taking hold over early 19th century England. The undead are multiplying, fast. Weapon-toting, karate-kicking heroine Elizabeth Bennett teams up with the dashing Mr Darcy to save the day.

Putting aside their social opinions and differences, not to mention Elizabeth's dislike of Mr. Darcy, they unite to prevent Regency England from being ravaged by hordes of bloody zombies.

A labyrinth of challenges

House of Detention

Working on the production was an exciting prospect for Teresa Darby, Location Manager: "The script was a pleasure to read, faithful to the original story, with a comedic 'tongue in cheek' approach to the zombies."

The location brief seemed straightforward initially, but complexities began to arise as the pre-production stage took hold. Darby says "not only were we working on a period film, but we had the added complication of zombies, with all the blood and gore that entails, which for many locations is a considerable concern."

There was no studio base, with everything filmed entirely on location from a damp late autumn through the plunging temperatures of December. This created further logistical challenges for the production. Darby explains: "In a nine week shoot, we had 17 major unit moves all around London".

With these geographical limitations, locations needed to be flexible, both logistically and aesthetically.

The former 19th century prison known as the House of Detention was an ideal choice, with its period Victorian features lying hidden beneath the streets of Clerkenwell. Tabitha Gould, Locations Coordinator at The Collective, says "where better in central London to film the training room of Elizabeth Bennett in the basement of her family's Longbourne Manor?"

"We had several sets" says Darby "taking advantage of the long basement corridors and labyrinths this unique site has to offer." Two main sets in the location were used to portray different scenes; the training room at Longbourne and the security room at Netherfield.  

Lights, camera, goosebumps

House of Detention

The production filmed over a period of a month, with the subterranean cells and pits used to full effect. In one fight scene between two characters, an additional false column and beam were erected so they could be crumbled and destroyed in the fight. This ensured the preservation of the site's actual columns, with careful replication of the listed stonework to maintain a realistic likeness. The tunnels were also lit with torches and candles, which "gave the place an eerie glow and created an authentic, but spooky atmosphere" says Gould.

A strong team was the key to dealing with complicated logistics and long hours. Darby said "having a tight team made all the difference." Gould agreed, saying "the crew were extremely respectful of the listed building and its surrounding neighbours. No detail was left out and they were a pleasure to have on site at the House of Detention - even if it did give some of the crew goosebumps."

About the House of Detention

The House of Detention is an extraordinary underground Victorian prison complex in central London. With buildings dating from approximately 1820, the entire site is underground, forming a labyrinthine complex of vaults, cells, tunnels and pits.

High profile productions to have filmed here include Suffragette and Muppets Most Wanted.

For more information or availability on House of Detention, please contact Tabitha Gould at The Collective on Tabitha@location-collective.co.uk or 0203 773 3704.