The 2012 dark horror comedy film is based on an old soap opera from the late 1960s. The movie is directed by Tim Burton and stars his all time favorite freak Johnny Depp as the vampire Barnabas Collins.
This movie is so typical Tim Burton. Johnny Depp plays a vampire that is being seduced by an evil witch played by Eva Green who then buries him alive where he sleeps for 200 years. When he awakens this witch has destroyed his family name so it is up to Barnabas to team up with his distant relatives to stop the evil witch. I have not seen the original soap opera so this is just based on the movie.
Let’s talk about the cast for a second. Michelle Pfeiffer plays the strict matriarch of the Collins family and the first one to realize Barnabas is a vampire. Pfeiffer manages to nail this strict overprotective mother figure in a brilliant way. Helena Bonham Carter appears alongside Depp as the live in psychiatrist trying to deal with all the issues this family has. Depp shows once again that he may not be that good of an actor cause the only character he can play is a sociopath. Maybe he is a sociopath? Eva Green is the star of this movie as the evil witch Angelique Bouchard. She is both creepy, seducing and incredibly funny all throughout the movie. The chemistry between Eva Green and Johnny Depp are also one of the finer parts of the film.
Burton does what Burton knows best here. Make a weird comedic horror film that is astonishing to look at. The story and a solid genre are the problem. Burton fails at establishing a good genre. Sometimes it is scary, sometimes it is funny and most of the time it is a soap opera. And the fact that the plot is lame is not really helping. Seeing how the soap opera was on the air for five years they have taken a little here and a little there and the plotline is a mess due to it. Everything happens so fast and it leaves you with a lot more questions than it manages to answer. It is like Burton has directed this movie at an arm’s length. cause the good parts really don’t matter when the story is suck a train wreck.
The visuals are impressive, and Burton knows visuals very well. His regular costume designer Colleen Atwood is back and has made some incredible costumes for this film, and the sets look amazing. He has also invited the french camera God Bruno Delbonnel to do the cinematography and it is a good enough reason to see it just for that.
Danny Elfman is back as a regular composer and manages to make a soundtrack that is pleasing to listen to. Heavily inspired from the gothic soap opera and a cameo by Alice Cooper is an amazing easter egg for any music fan.
Dark Shadows is not necessarily a bad film, its main problem is that it is messy. It is under 2 hours long and so much things happen you just sit there feeling confused. It is a very very stereotypical Tim Burton movie, but it does not manage to capture the magic Burton is known to do. It mostly gives you a headache. If you love the art of film and moviemaking you will find some unique parts to enjoy here. It is Tim Burton trying to achieve a way of narcissistic moviemaking that blows up in his face and creates a train wreck, and it is a pity cause there are some potential here.