Title: Dark Shadows
Director: Tim Burton
Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Comedy, Drama,
Stars: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Bella Heathcote, Chloë Grace Moretz, Jonny Lee Miller and Eva Green
Review by: Allan
“Yet another creepy, kooky and spooky TV family hits the big screen.”
Back in 1752, even with a successful family business, an exquisite home and an impressive fortune Barnabas Collins (Depp) is a cursed man. His parents have been murdered, his one true love taken from him and as if nothing could get worse for the unfortunate chap he is turned into a vampire. All of this is thanks to his spurned lover Angelique Bouchard (Green) who also happens to be a powerful witch.
With a flaming torch and pitchfork carrying mob in tow she buries her former lover six feet under seemingly to spend eternity there. However he is freed from his wooden prison and re-enters the world in 1972. Much has changed, horses replaced by horsepower, television, hippies and Alice Copper. His family has thankfully continued but the years have not been kind with many unfortunate incidents and a failing business. Matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Pfeiffer) is barely keeping things together. Joining her around the dinner table is her troubled teenage daughter Carolyn, young David, his deadbeat dad Roger and drunken psychologist Dr Julia Hoffman.
Quickly the reluctant blood sucking fiend makes it a priority to reclaim everything the Collin’s family has lost aided by his hypnotic business acumen. Although before he has found a suitable daytime sleeping spot he discovers the wicked witch Angelique is still alive and the years have been very, very, very kind. Meanwhile new girl with a mysterious past Victoria Winters (Heathcote) arrives at the Manor to be David’s governess. The fact she bears an uncanny resemblance to Barnabas’ ill-fated lover does not go unnoticed by the fanged one.
Is true love eternal? Can the Collins family name be saved? Is there such a thing as an understated Depp performance anymore?
Tim Burton’s latest redo of a previously established world is yet again a mixed affair. Coming from the talented film maker behind Beetlejuice and Ed Wood his big screen adaptation of a cult classic serial drama is a crushing disappointment featuring occasional moments of brilliance obscured by elements that don’t quite work.
Leading man Depp is outstanding as Barnabas the vamp ripped out of his own time and pushed into the bright dizzying light of a small town in the 1970s. With a Nosferatu appearance and nearly two centuries underground his antiquated verbal insults are hilarious, especially when targeted at sexy psychotic seductress Angelique. Eva Green and her Cheshire Cat grin eats up the screen with her over the top take on a woman scorned far too many times to mention. However in spite of this noteworthy double act everything else is a little off and stops the movie being the fun watch it demands to be.
The tone and genre types bounce around between a Gothic drama, a bland horror, a romance, a dysfunctional family comedy but never settles on anything for too long before shifting with all the elegance of a rusted gearbox. The supporting cast of Bonham Carter, Moretz, Lee Miller and Pfeiffer are given nothing of substance to do aside from under act whenever Depp is sharing the screen with them. Even the Heathcote-centric lover from another time plot, which could be argued should be the core of the tale, is left hidden under many of the other Collin’s family issues.
Dark Shadows looks and sounds fantastic with regular composer Elfman pulling out all the stops from his reliable bag of tricks in-between choice period tracks. The schizophrenic script has a smattering of chucklesome lines but no more than the ones featured in the inaccurate promotional trailers. Burton gives a couple of Hammer-esque scares and inappropriate naughtiness but it all comes across as half hearted and PG13/12A friendly.
In conclusion, a missed opportunity for either a full blown Gothic romantic horror or a fish out of water laugh-o-rama, for die hard Burton fans only.