Dark Shadows Isn’t Dark Enough

Peter Mountain/Warner Brothers Pictures

Leave logic at the door. Dark Shadows, directed by Tim Burton, is held together by Johnny Depp’s deadpan performance as Barnabus Collins, but only barely. He is turned into a vampire after his mistress, a servant girl named Angelique, confesses her feelings and feels jilted by not receiving an “I love you” in return. She is a witch and curses him into being a vampire as well as losing everyone he loves. She puts him in a coffin and he stays in there for a few centuries, until he is let out again. He only knows of life in 1752 and is surprised to discover that 1972, when he gets out, is not quite the same kettle of fish.

Supporting roles by Helena Bonham-Carter, a psychiatrist, and Michelle Pfeiffer keep the story afloat. However, despite the drab costumes and overuse of black tones, it is not intriguing, it’s not really dark, it doesn’t explain anything, and it’s mostly just a lot of fluff. Are we supposed to just readily accept whatever Tim Burton comes up with?

Movie poster

Burton has used Helena Bonham-Carter in many of his movies and she doesn’t really get old. Depp is synonymous with these type of Burton roles, besides his Pirates of the Caribbean franchise which padded his wallet. On a side note, Burton seems to have a penchant for basically unknown Australian actresses (see Mia W. in Alice in Wonderland) and hired Bella Heathcote to play Victoria Winters. She’s pretty good in her role and we should (hopefully) be seeing her in some new movies.

Should you see it? This movie strives to be serious and isn’t campy, which is such a pity. Between trying to please the studios and staying true to a show that hardly anyone remembers, it misses the mark. The typical 1970s clothing, hairstyles, turn of phrase, and music give it some flair but it’s very stereotypical. The gags are what keep it going so if you’re in a mood for something less serious, give it a shot. I didn’t laugh once during this movie but maybe you will.

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