Tim Burton makes two kinds of movies: flashy, Hollywood showpieces like Mars Attacks! and dark, gothic films like Edward Scissorhands. His latest outing, a remake of the moody ‘60s soap opera Dark Shadows, falls somewhere in the middle and is enjoyable for most of its 113-minute running time, but does get a little too silly near the end to be considered anything special in the Burton repertoire.
Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) is an extremely wealthy playboy that is turned into a vampire by a witch (Eva Green) after he declines her love. He’s imprisoned for all eternity in a chained up coffin and buried deep underground. Jump to 1972 and Barnabas is accidentally released by a construction crew. He doesn’t understand the paved roads and flashing lights and ventures back to his mansion in a state of confusion. He soon discovers that his relatives have let the family business slip and that the woman who destroyed his life is still cursing his name.
First things first, Dark Shadows is a work of beauty to look at. The cinematography, costumes, lighting, and muted colour palette is all perfect and fit the mood of the film wonderfully. Danny Elfman’s score is also excellent, which is not much of a surprise given most of his best work has been on a Burton film.
Burton always gets a creative performance out of Depp and this is no different. Depp gives 110% in every scene he’s in and if it wasn’t for him the film would not have been half as intriguing. After eight films together this is pretty much expected from them as they’ve basically become a movie-making dream team.
Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Jonny Lee Miller, and Chloë Grace Moretz are all excellent in their supporting roles, especially Moretz who has come a long way since her breakout performance in Kick-Ass. Unfortunately it appears Green took a page out of the Anne Hathaway guide to acting and comes across as annoying and obnoxious instead of sexy and cool.
Fans of the original series will probably balk at the comedic elements, and there are many groan-worthy moments. But overall that’s what delivered the most entertainment and when the film tried to go dark and serious, it failed.
If you dig Burton’s style, you’ll most likely enjoy Dark Shadows. You just might want to wait until you can enjoy it on your couch.
Cast: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Helena Bonham Carter, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloë Grace Moretz
Directed by: Tim Burton
Top image: A scene from Dark Shadows. Courtesy Warner Bros.