Dark Shadows

Tim Burton has always been one of my all time favorite directors because of his strange-yet-humorous nature and the frequent use of my favorite actor, Johnny Depp. For the last decade or so we have been plagued with remakes of stories that we are all familiar with and the only thing that makes them different is the addition of the iconic Tim Burton style. Once again Tim Burton brings us yet another remake, only this time of the 70’s cult classic soap opera Dark Shadows.

Frequent collaborator, Johnny Depp, stars as Barnabas Collins in a role previously made famous by Jonathan Frid. Barnabas Collins and his parents leave Liverpool in 1760 for New Hampshire, in an attempt to expand their family business. They succeed and become the wealthiest family in the area, resulting in the town getting named after the family. Barnabas was a ladies’ man and scorned the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green) by falling in love with Josette DuPres (Bella Heathcote). Unbeknownst to him, Angelique is a witch and out of pure jealousy, she kills his one true love and has cursed Barnabas to be a vampire so that his suffering would be endless. Angelique rallies the townspeople to bury Barnabas alive.

After nearly 200 years, Barnabas is accidently unearthed in the year 1972. He heads to the one place that he can call home and encounters the remaining four dysfunctional members of his family and discovers that his family estate is in jeopardy. Barnabas soon learns that the evil person behind all his families turmoil is none other than Angelique herself.

Though this film does have the quirky Burton-esque feel that we are all familiar with, it lacks his signature energy. The plot itself is long and drawn out and makes the first half of the movie extremely slow and boring. Now don’t get me wrong, Depp did manage to slip in more than a few funny lines but even his best work was a strained attempt at humor. I do, on the other hand, appreciate that Burton brought back the original vampire myths, with all the burning in the sunlight and not being able to see a reflection. Though the script and story itself leaves much to be desired, Johnny Depp is as funny as the story and/or script allows him to be and as Barnabas, he carries the movie. Even Michelle Pfeiffer and Helena Bonham Carter couldn’t help save this movie from the pedantic pace of a very uneven but predictable story. Equally disappointing was the waste of the perfect casting of Chloe Moretz as Michelle’s daughter. Even though she looked and sounded a lot like her movie mom, she wasn’t given much to do but sulk and glare.

Even though you will experience an entertaining blast from the past with the characters, soundtrack and fashions, it is best to say that this film should be left as a rental. Being such a huge fan of Burton’s kooky and imaginative world, it sure pains me to say that this movie is a bit of a train wreck and lacks the enchanting storytelling that we’ve come to expect from him.

2.5 out of 5 stars.