Saturday, 19 May 2012

Dark Shadows

I would be lying if I said I was a fan of the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp partnership. Sleepy Hollow and The Corpse Bride are their only collaberations that I have voluntarily watched more than once.

I had no prior knowledge of Dark Shadows as I was lucky enough to miss all televised promotion but alas the price of having very good friends, who had the foresight to bring me a rather fantastic present, means that I didn’t escape the one hour fifty minute monstrosity that was Dark Shadows.

PLOT: Barnabus Collins (Johnny Depp) is turned into a vampire and buried alive by spurned lover and immortal witch Angelique (Eva Green). One hundred and ninety six years later the film ends Barnabus is released from his coffin and he moves back into the family home with his oh so quirky family. Barnabus and Angelique go to war to see who can run the most successful fishmongers. There is a love story but Burton didn’t bother developing it so I don’t see why I should write about it. The Collins family kill the witch in the entrance with a chandelier. END PLOT

The plot of Dark Shadows is nonexistent. It jumps around all over the place with the main Collins family being totally underused, the love interest being forgotten about for large chunks of the film and the unexpected introduction of werewolves in the final act. It felt as though the writer had put a selection of plot points in a hat and just picked out five at random to form the basis of his script.

The tone of Dark Shadows is as uneven as the script as it couldn't find a balance between bright/quirky and dark/gothic. The comedy was half-baked and lazy. The fish out of water theme got old extremely quickly and although Johnny Depp can speak quickly in ye olde American it began to grate very quickly.

The potential was there – the “Top of the World” montage of the Collins family rebuilding their factory worked very well but for every section that worked we got several than didn’t. The love scene between Barnabus and Angelique was woefully ill-conceived.

I am not a Johnny Depp fan and I will repeat my usual proclamation that if all his performances are quirky none of them fucking are. His shtick is as tiring as Burton’s film making.

Eva Green took overacting to catastrophic levels and the rest of the cast, which boasts names such as Helena Bonham Carter and Michelle Pfeiffer, are so underused I don’t know why they bothered showing up.

Chloe Moretz is going to have a long and successful career ahead of her but at the minute she is fourteen years old. There were occasions that she was over sexualised and acted far older than her years. It was unnecessary.

Dark Shadows is an over stylish and empty mess but these are not the films greatest faults as Dark Shadows had the audacity to be one of the most boring films I have had the misfortune of sitting through.

Hopefully Dark Shadows spells the end of Burton and Depps relationship. They had little to offer in the first place but now there is no barrel left to scrape. Dark Shadows get a 2/10. If The Hobbit trailer didn’t play before the film began it would have scored lower.


  1. Thanks for watching this crap, so I don't have to ;-)

    1. I took one for the team today - next one is on you my friend!

      K ;-)

  2. Considering you disdain for the pairing I'm not suprised to read the review. I will say one thing about the plot, they tried to ram in 1000+ episodes of plotlines, from the original series, into a 2 hour film. I enjoyed it but I can totally agree with you about the lack of use of the supporting cast, pointless wasting of a good cast!

    1. you know how fickle I am though - the films I expect to dislike I end up loving and visa versa.

      Dark Shadows was messy from start to finish. My lack of knowledge of the tv show meant that I couldn't even get any nostalgia enjoyment from it!

  3. Karina - The prerequisite for seeing this movie was, of course, knowing the original TV series which was always high camp.

    Barnabas appeared in episode 260 or something, several years into the series.

    Without remembering how campy the series was, one wouldn't recognize the way this film's director deliberately made this film version a little cheesy as well.

    So I loved this film. But again, you'd have to have been there. =)

  4. Remember, this was a soap opera.

  5. I failed to mention something above that I thought was well known: the soap opera was meant for housewives when it appeared around 1968 or thereabouts but, appearing at 4PM on weekdays, it quickly became the province of an entire generation of schoolchildren who loved it while their mothers didn't seem to know about it. It developed into entertainment for children and part of the reason it was finally taken off the air was because older children got their younger brothers and sisters hooked on it and they started having nightmares. I hope there is a sequel to this movie because there was the character Quentin who was a werewolf when the Moon was full. He also had his long lost love and a theme song that was quite haunting and which actually broke the Billboard Top 100 as a single 45RMP record (this was before cassettes, 8 tracks and CDs)

    1. Hi Allen

      Thanks for your detailed comments!

      I really don't agree that the prerequisite for watching Dark Shadows was prior knowledge of the tv show especially as it ended around thirty years ago.

      I am not aware if it is repeated often on US tv but as someone based outside of the USA I had never heard of it before.

      The casting of Johnny Depp certainly put the target audience squarely in his demographic which is a lot younger than those who originally watched the show.

      I know I have missed out on the nostalgia factor and wont have understood the in jokes as I have no knowledge of the source material.

      My review is purely from the films point of view and because of that I honestly think Dark Shadows is one of the messiest films I have sat through in long time.

      The premise is actually very good and I do not doubt Daniel at all when he says that they crammed in 1000 plot points into the one film. They tried to do too much in two hours and in the end achieved nothing.

      I just think that with a much stronger script and actual fleshing out of the characters it would have been a very good film.

      I did love the Top of the World montage as I like slightly off beat humour - if they had kept this up my opinion wouldn't of been so negative.

      It's a pity as I the show does sound like something I would have watched.

      Transferring Dark Shadows to the big screen is most definitely an opportunity which has been poorly handled

      Thanks again for reading

      K :-)