There are way too many zombie movies. There have probably been too many adaptations of Pride and Prejudice. So by all accounts Pride and Prejudice and Zombies shouldn't work.
Yet somehow the shambling corpses of both dead cinematic horses manage to combine into a movie that's fun, funny, gory and yet still strangely romantic.
Based on the parody novel by the same name, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies takes Jane Austen's classic story and, well, throws zombies into it. Most of the themes and much of the original dialogue remains untouched, resulting in scenes of romantic 1800s musings paired with references to the Book of Revelation and images of and decapitated undead hordes.
Above all, this works because Pride and Prejudice and Zombies knows exactly what it is and doesn't pretend to be more. The plot never takes itself too seriously, even in the most dramatic of moments. It knows it's an absurd comedy, not a Walking Dead period piece. Matt Smith (Doctor Who) in particular is a comedic standout as the awkward romantic Parson Collins, who is neither a brave warrior nor a particularly good suitor (his skills as a vicar are in question as well).
Not to say that the action isn't worthwhile. Lily James (Cinderella, Downton Abbey) shines in the lead role of Elizabeth Bennet, a woman that always runs toward danger even as the men around her run away. This Ms. Bennet is every bit as strong and independent as the original character Austen created with the added bonus of being able to kick the butt of any man, woman or zombie that dares get in her way.
And of course there's the lingering potential romance between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley), a general who for the most part is more focused on keeping his country safe from zombies than he is on finding a wife. When he does think of women, he doesn't think much of the skills that most consider "lady-like." "Any savage can dance," he says. "I imagine even a zombie could do it with some success."
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies does a surprising job at retaining a lot of the same elements of social structure, politics and sexism that were in the original work, but don't expect a masterpiece when it comes to any of that stuff. If you're here purely for a timeless story and classic plot, stick to the original. Adding zombies to Pride and Prejudice doesn't exactly improve on what already exists.
What it does do, however, it make it a lot more exciting on screen. If you've got a significant other who refuses to sit through a dramatic love story with you, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies might be a Valentine's Day compromise for you.