Does ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ Bite? These Critics Think So

“The elements of both horror and comedy fall flat. By the climax you’re almost forgotten what you’re watching and who you’re supposed to care about,” one review reads

“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” bites, according to the majority of critics.

The horror movie based on Seth Grahame-Smith‘s literary adaptation of Jane Austen‘s classic novel has garnered a disappointing 43 percent “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Reviews argue the production starring Lily James, Sam Riley, Suki Waterhouse and Bella Heathcote didn’t master the “modern genre mashup.”

TheWrap’s own film critic, Dan Callahan, wrote “this movie is so crushing mainly because it was made by obviously smart people who are trying to dumb themselves down, and there’s nothing more excruciating than that. Let’s hope that we don’t have to see any more of these mash-ups made into movies.”

Other critics describe the film as “monotonal,” “all over the board stylistically and tonally,” and “such a bore.”

Read a sampling of the 11 worst reviews below.

Lindsey Bahr, Associated Press:

“The film is all over the board stylistically and tonally, and the elements of both horror and comedy fall flat. By the climax you’re almost forgotten what you’re watching and who you’re supposed to care about. For now, it seems only Edgar Wright has really conquered the modern genre mashup. But that’s an unfair standard for any mortal, or undead, to live up to.”

Stephanie Merry, Washington Post:

“‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ delivers what its title promises: a little romance and some undead villains, plus a bit of comedy. But this overly busy riff on Austen’s winning formula doesn’t justify all the tinkering.”

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune:

“For all the splurch and head-lopping, ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ is monotonal. It turns its action sequences into a noisy blur. Those larger questions of tone haven’t entirely been solved. The ideal film adaptation of this material would be bone-dry in its wit, and less concerned with packaging itself as an action picture.”

Fionnuala Halligan, Screen Daily:

“It’s hard to point the finger at a single culprit. The source material is numbingly restrictive, forcing the characters to end up in the same place, by the same means, as Austen’s multi-stranded novel, only with the occasional undead as a diversion. And 108 minutes is far too long to spend on a sub-par Austen adaptation with unconvincing zombies (there’s no real flesh-eating to lighten the load, either, just polite blurry lenses or referenced off-camera action). To say the edit is choppy understates the bumpy ride it delivers in the last half hour. There’s a low-budget feel which is increasingly thinly-disguised.”

Tom Huddleston, Time Out:

“It’s the zombies that are the problem: watering down the violence for teenage audiences and playing fast and loose with undead mythology (zombies can talk now, apparently), the film flatlines the moment anyone draws a blade. The comedy, too, is played peculiarly straight: only Matt Smith seems to be having any fun, as a parsimonious parson who takes a shine to Elizabeth. The result is an odd, inconsequential but not entirely charmless misfire: an action-horror-comedy-romance with none of the first two and precious little of the third.”

Dann Gire, Daily Herald:

“As a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit or an elaborate 20-minute film short, Burr Steers’ brutally restrained, remarkably faithful ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ might have found its ideal format. But as a 107-minute, PG-13-rated feature film, ‘P&P&Z’ early on exhausts the intrigue of its daring literary/horror mash-up premise and squanders its promise of a super sexy, very scary and riotously funny cinematic experience.”

 Stephen Witty, New York Daily News:

“The hungry monsters in ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ are looking for nice big brains. Well, they won’t find any here. With its forced marriage between Jane Austen and George Romero, this is a story that has to be smart — and silly.Instead it’s just dumb and dull, as proper lords and ladies occasionally take a break from games of whist to fight off undead hordes and lop off a few heads. Such a bore, really.”

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone:

“It’s utter nonsense. But James and Riley give it their all. Ditto Lena Headey as Darcy’s warrior aunt and Headey’s ‘Game of Thrones’ daddy Charles Dance as the harried patriarch of the Bennet clan. Matt Smith (‘Doctor Who’) overacts everyone in sight as a godawful parson asking for Elizabeth’s hand. But its human brains the zombies want. Somehow they can’t come back to life until they’ve dined on grey matter. Funny? Sometimes. Scary? Almost never. ‘PP&Z’ spins merrily and menacingly along for about half an hour. Bad luck that the movie’s running time is 107 minutes.”

Jesse Hassenger, AV Club:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” So goes the opening line of the novelty book ‘Pride And Prejudice And Zombies’ and, as such, the opening line of narration of the movie adaptation. It’s the perfect funny-stupid one-liner accompaniment to a perfect funny-stupid title–but not, as it turns out, the perfect hook on which to hang an entire movie. That this particular retelling of the Jane Austen novel feels like a Cliffs Notes version is understandable; that its zombie bits are equally rudimentary, though, is more disappointing. The movie feels bloodless, and not just because the gore is muted and computerized to stay within the boundaries of a PG-13 rating.”

Connie Ogle, Miami Herald:

“The skirmishes and eventual full-blown battle is garden-variety PG-13 violence — clanking swords and grunting — so the action won’t past muster for a generation weaned on ‘The Walking Dead.’ James and Riley might make an interesting Elizabeth and Darcy in a traditional ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ but this version? It’s dead on arrival.”

Matt Prigge, Metro:

“It’s all missed opportunities, and there’s something unthinkingly classist about the zombies themselves, which could easily be read as the poor taking out the idle rich. It’s a so-so Austen adaptation paired with a neutered zombie movie, arriving in an era, thanks to ‘The Walking Dead’ and the ‘World War Z’ film, in which we’ve allowed our undead entertainments to go PG-13.”

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