Dark Shadows lacks biting entertainment
Combining family drama, gothic monsters, and a romp through the 1970s––not to mention plenty of blood––“Dark Shadows,” the most recent collaboration between director Tim Burton and leading man Johnny Depp, promises an edgy comedy but lacks enough bite to be memorable.
In the 1770’s fishing village of Collinsport, Maine, wealthy Englishman Barnabas Collins (Depp) finds himself widowed and transformed into a vampire after spurning the affections of the witch Angelique (Eva Green.) Awakened in 1972, Barnabas must learn to fit in with his eccentric descendants and revive the family fishing company, all while avoiding Angelique’s seductive wiles.
“Dark Shadows,” based off a campy TV drama from the late 60s, succeeds in capturing Tim Burton’s signature style: spooky, wooded landscapes, dark humor, and plenty of pale makeup. For the most part, the movie clearly understands that it’s not to be taken seriously, and the breathtaking cinematography and soundtrack perfectly compliment the gothic tone.
Johnny Depp easily holds the film together with his dedication to bringing Barnabas to life––despite the lack of blood in his veins. Watching him navigate through 1970s culture provides fun gags and thrills, often at his own expense. The rest of the Collins clan succeed in making their characters stand out, although Eva Green’s villainous dramatics sometimes verge on overacting.
However, the plot quickly falls through as the Collins family becomes sidelined to focus solely on Barnabas. Plotlines concerning David, the youngest Collins boy who claims to see ghosts, his conniving doctor (Helena Bonham Carter,) and Victoria, Barnabas’s love interest played by Bella Heathcote, are largely forgotten or written out of the story until the movie’s finale. The horror-comedy-drama mix conflicts with itself, making “Dark Shadows” feel disjointed and unsure of what kind of movie it wants to be.
While Burton fans will enjoy the classic gothic vibe and Depp’s oddball shenanigans, “Dark Shadows” fails to offer anything truly engaging, leaving audiences unimpressed and more than a little bored.