Dark Shadows

  • 2012-05-16
  • By Laurence Boyce

Director: Tim Burton

“Dark Shadows” is the latest collaboration featuring Tim Burton working with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter (the latter all the more unsurprising considering she happens to be Burton’s wife). Based on a ’70s US soap opera which – despite its intriguing blend of the supernatural with the usual soap opera antics – was never really popular outside of its home territory, the film itself would appear to be sure-fire box office success. After all, Johnny Depp plays a vampire which should be enough to get the “Twilight” fans out in droves. Whilst they will be satisfied (let’s face it, they’d be satisfied if it just contained Depp eating a bucket of chicken then reading the paper), others may find its weird blend of comedy and drama somewhat off-putting.

In the 1700s, the family of Barnabas Collins (Depp) have built the town of Collinwood themselves and now stand as proud owners of a thriving fishing business. But Barnabas has spurned the advances of Angelique (Eva Green) who – in a stroke of bad luck – happens to be a witch. She destroys his family, curses him to be a vampire and then locks him in a coffin. He manages to escape in the 1970s and returns to his home, finding out his descendants have lost control of the family business thanks to Angelique, who is still around. As he struggles to deal with the new era he finds himself in, Barnabas helps his family regain their glory whilst falling for the strange and mysterious governess Vicky Winters (Bella Heathcote).

This never knows if it’s a comedy or serious film and is something of a muddle as a result. There are plenty of good things, from Depp’s performance to a number of clever ideas (such as a mid-air sex scene). But its consistent “oh, isn’t the ’70s funny!” and the attempt to get too much plot into too short a running time makes it enjoyable but often unsatisfying. 


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