The idea behind Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, that of rewriting Jane Austen’s classic novel of social repression so that it takes place in a world full of flesh-eating zombies, is one that should have been clever and amusing for about a minute or two. It’s the sort of thing you hear about, chuckle at the notion of, and then dismiss. It shouldn’t have been enough to actually support an entire book, let alone a film adaptation of said book. And yet, here we are, watching a Burr Steers-directed (Igby Goes Down) film adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s bastardization of Austen’s novel, and the results are pretty dang entertaining.
Nine times out of ten a Pride and Prejudice and Zombies film would have ended up being some kind of bottom of the barrel exploitation farce—something that looks cheap, lacks weight, and fails to connect with the audience in any substantial way, like Grahame-Smith’s other foray into this sort of cinematic myth corruption, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. This one isn’t just a one-note joke though. Not only does it maintain the bulk of what makes Austen’s story entertaining and resonant to modern audiences, and not only does it handle the horror of its zombie elements pretty well, but it’s also surprisingly well-crafted.