Movie Review of Dark Shadows
If you haven’t noticed, there’s sort of a big vampire craze going on right now in the entertainment industry, so you can’t really blame Tim Burton and Johnny Depp for their attempt at joining in the fun. If you are hung up on your undead being of the sparkly and smoldering variety, however, you’ll have to stick with Young Adult fiction-----these characters are darker and a little less likely to end up on a poster on your tween daughter’s bedroom door.
THE GOOD: The story begins in the 1700’s, with the Collins family leaving Liverpool, England for America, and settling in what will soon become Collinsport, Maine. Joshua Collins (Ivan Kaye) establishes a thriving seaport town, and soon uses his family fortune to build a mansion for his wife and young son, Barnabas. When a household servant (Eva Green) falls in love with the grown Barnabas (played by Depp), and is rejected by him, we learn she is a vindictive witch----literally----and unleashes a curse on the Collins family, turning the young Collins heir into a vampire who is then buried alive. Fast forward 200 years to 1972, when Barnabas rises from his grave intent on restoring his family’s name and estate to their former glory.
The younger generation will be mostly oblivious to the fact that this film is a remake of the 40 year old daytime drama of the same name, although Burton’s adaptation is undoubtedly stranger and more risque than anything that ever appeared on daytime television in the 60’s. To his credit, Tim Burton always manages to bring the “creepy” factor to his films and this is no exception. Most of it is very tongue in cheek, so there’s very little chance of anyone being traumatized or having nightmares afterwards, but as previously mentioned, Depp’s vampire character is unmistakably NOT a high school heartthrob, so you won’t be having teenage girls and middle aged women losing their minds over his dreaminess…….Well, alright---it IS Johnny Depp…..the guy makes just about any character look good, and I will be the first to admit that he even makes a pale corpse with long dirty fingernails look shockingly desirable. His deadpan responses and comedic timing is charming as well. And, as we have all come to expect in Tim Burton movies, there are plenty of other dysfunctional characters to help us feel uncomfortable and entertained.
THE BAD: If you have had your fill of Depp/Burton movies, then you will probably want to skip this one, simply because it feels pretty much like all the other Depp/Burton movies before it. There is certainly a large movie going fanbase that have NOT tired of this duo, and I suppose for argument’s sake, I reside in that camp. I realize right off that I probably won’t be seeing a film that will be renknowned for much of anything except some general weirdness, a few dark laughs, and Depp in his many wonderous incarnations of male splendor. But sometimes that’s perfectly sufficient for me. And I suppose that in the end, that is what the actual downside of this move amounts to: It isn’t particularly noteable, it’s just sufficient entertainment for an evening.
THE UGLY: I’ll get directly to the point---for all the screen time filled with vampires, witches, and other hideous cast members, the grand prize goes to the cameo appearance of Alice Cooper. As a friend of mine so eloquently put it:: “Seeing Alice Cooper perform live in 1972 would probably have been cool…….it was a lot less cool seeing Alice Cooper as a 64 year old man performing in a movie set in 1972.” I’m not even sure I would agree with the first part of that statement, but the last part was dead on.
For all the hype about this movie, the best I can do is tell you that, because I never actually watched the original show, I have no idea if fans of the former daytime drama will be pleased or disappointed with this version. My older sister, who grew up with the show and went to the movie with me, said they got a lot of things right, so that’s certainly saying something. And let’s face it, there are worse things to do with your evening than staring at Johnny Depp.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 2 ½ trophies.
Dark Shadows has a running time of 113 minutes and is rated PG-13 for comic horror, violence, sexual content, some drug use, language and smoking.