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Review: ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ a killer time

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

From its first kill, a POV-shot of the decapitation and subsequent squishing of a zombie head, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is a bloody good time.

It is adapted from Seth Grahame-Smith’s 2009 novel that took Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” and set it against a backdrop of an undead plague. So we get corsets and rotting flesh, “Downton Abbey” and “The Walking Dead.” It’s a date movie where the compromise between romance fans and horror junkies has already been made.

Writer/director Burr Steers (“Igby Goes Down”) takes a perverse pleasure in his explosive heads retelling of the Austen classic. And he has a vibrant cast in his corner, including “Cinderella’s” Lily James as Elizabeth Bennett, “Maleficent’s” Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy and “Doctor Who’s” Matt Smith as scene-stealer Mr. Collins.

The zombie invasion is treated as just another aspect of early 1800s English countryside life. As such, the five Bennett daughters are trained warriors, each schooled in a different fighting style to hold off the flesh eaters, though they don’t really let it overshadow their hunt for a regal fellow.

“Pride and Predjudice and Zombies” isn’t the first attempt to throw a horror twist on an established work, but it works better than “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” or “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.” It has the right flippant tone and modern sensibility, but remains reverent of its source material.

The works of Austen are endlessly adaptable, and “Pride and Predjudice and Zombies” shows they can hold up to even the most outlandish of plot devices. Talk about a writer with bite.

agraham@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/grahamorama

‘Pride and Predjudice and Zombies’

GRADE: B

Rated PG-13 for zombie violence and action, and brief suggestive material

Running time: 108 minutes