Dark Shadows Review
Tim Burton takes us to his usual and familiar realm of grainy film and Goth-like characters for his retake on Dark Shadows, which unfortunately doesn’t quite seem to know how to transgress from its TV show’s roots and a stand-alone piece.
With Burton’s favorite cast of characters, this morbid tale tells the story of Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp), who has a much respected family, loses everything after a witch (Eva Green) curses him to be a vampire and locks him up since he couldn’t return her love. After being trapped in a casket for two centuries, he resurges and goes back to his old home, where he urges to reconnect with his descendants and being again part of the family.
Honestly, the main story line dissolves very quickly and tends to lack of focus. There are multiple arcs at one point involving many of the family members but with such few background exploration, it seems pointless. Every character is clumsily introduced and since the movie has such a difficult time transitioning the people with a similar interest point in the story while it’s going on, the end result is a big mess of “huh?”
Diverting the attention with funny puns and witty dialogue doesn’t do enough to notice that it’s horribly structured and the characters intentions misplaced. Especially putting such an emphasis on the “family curse” throughout it, but never really exploring in what terms everything was or what it really meant.
This clearly belongs to an older generation acquainted with the old TV show since very little input was given by the story. Burton definitely likes making movies and not knowing how to include people outside his small circle. With the right background knowledge, this might be more enjoyable, or just understandable.
That said, this really felt like watching a pilot and two episodes of a new TV show, with the exception of a tie-in arc throughout all those.
Although, by its starting point, the movie puts a very good ambient tone with its cinematography, even though most of the effects seems recycled from everything Tim Burton did. A little redundant from time to time, Dark Shadows can sometimes be visually attractive.
Actor-wise, not much to really say there. Depp was pretty good in a role clearly made for him, Green was interesting, Michelle Pfeiffer was perhaps misused, and Helena Bonham Carter was, well, Helena Bonham Carter.
With good intentions to revamp this old tale of a tortured vampire wanting to honor his family name, Dark Shadows fails to deliver, period. The story wears thin and it clearly has a problem with keeping a general focus within its presented premise. The intentions of each character remain unclear and the only thing keeping it together is the cute little one-liners we all saw during the original trailer.