It's gratifying to see an Austen adaptation that's even more fearlessly feminist than Jane was, herself

By Alynda Wheat
February 05, 2016 09:35 AM

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young woman facing the undead horde must be in want of a knife. Or rather, she does in this version of Jane Austen.

Welcome to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, where ladies are valued more for their ability to take a head shot at 20 paces than for their skills on the pianoforte. Based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s spirited take on Austen’s masterpiece, Pride imagines the undead overrunning London, desperately trying to get at the juicy brains of the country gentry.

Our latest Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) isn’t merely of the idle rich, he’s a bona fide warrior, hunting down zombies that hide at card parties and society dinners. It actually makes more sense when he does fall for Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James), because it isn’t just her “fine eyes” that lure him, but her skill as a Kung Fu master, dispatching brain-munchers at a fancy ball. (Though if he paid attention, he’d see that all her sisters can get down with the get-down.)

Pride fleshes out its cast with Game of ThronesLena Headeyas a steely, one-eyed Lady Catherine de Bourgh (she lost it in battle), and a hilarious Matt Smith (Doctor Who) as the Bennets’ unctuous cousin, Mr. Collins.

They’re great fun, adding to the gory silliness that, somehow, stays faithful to the original text. Plus, it’s gratifying to see an Austen adaptation that’s even more fearlessly feminist than Jane was, herself. These are Bennet sisters she could be proud of. (Yes, all of them.)