Based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel of the same name, this mashup of the undead coming into Jane Austen’s classic story of the high social class in 19th century England might sound trashy. Smith’s previous adaptation was 2012’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The satirical tale took its premise way too seriously.
With countless adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, this is the first one to contain zombies. Director Burr Steers balances the humor and the thrills well. The zombies are as comical as they are disgusting. Not to mention one scene involving a church communion where the zombies drink pig’s blood with pig’s brains (even that could get away with a PG-13 rating). There isn’t as much zombie action as one would expect, but there is plenty to keep the film going. The gore is mostly off-screen, except for some brief shots of the zombies getting their brains blown off. Yet again, it’s Pride and Prejudice. It’s not without its romantic charms.
Known for her performances on Downton Abbey and last year’s live-action version of Cinderella, Lily James proves to be more than just a pretty face. In her portrayal of Elizabeth Bennett, she doesn’t necessarily need a husband–or Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) in this case. She takes care of herself fighting off the zombies. When he sets eyes on Liz, Darcy is impressed by her knowledge of the martial arts. They have each other’s back. The downside is that Darcy can be a bit aggressive. They even get physical at one point. The rest of the cast–including Bella Heathcote, Charles Dance, and Lena Headey–is solid, but Matt Smith steals the show as the socially awkward Mr. Collins, whose comedic timing and expressions are nothing short of perfect.
With the beautiful sets, scenery and costumes, it is undeniably flawed. As enjoyable the action is, some of the editing can get a little choppy. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies can get out-of-hand by the last act. It doesn’t end, it more than just stops. Nevertheless, it offers enough for fans of Jane Austen and zombie fans. This is one inventive, hilarious, and entertaining mash-up.