Written by Seth Grahame-Smith (Screenplay)
Directed by Tim Burton
Starring Johnny Depp, Michele Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, and Chloë Grace Moretz
An imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection.
What a mess. Dark Shadows is part horror movie and part serial soap opera mixed with a heavy dose of Burton’s classic retro camp. Unfortunately, these flavors don’t merge well in this failed attempt at…at whatever kind of movie this is supposed to be. Depp is wonderful as expected, portraying the updated Barnabas Collins, a man cursed to a life of vampirism. I honestly thought this was going to work based on the first 30 minutes. I was really enjoying it.
I was drawn in with the rest of the audience. Laughs and cheers erupted throughout the packed theater and I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed the origin of the dated vampire and watched intently. You’re either a fan of Tim Burton or you’re not. He has an instantly recognizable style and artistic trademark no matter what film he’s working on. All the Burton elements are here and you’ll be hard pressed to find a scene that isn’t a portrait of his gloomy imagination. Everything looks great, the material just doesn’t work.
Based solely on the cast, I thought Dark Shadows might have the ability to succeed. Everyone does a wonderful job, and it’s Chloe Grace Moretz stealing scenes as usual. I think she’s 15 in real life, a detail the two pervs sitting in front of me either missed or just didn’t care about. I agree she’s most likely going to be a knockout when she grows up, maybe just don’t be so vocal about her physical development.
I wish I had better news about Dark Shadows. In the end, it’s just too busy and silly to work. If you’re a big fan of Burton, you’ll love the look and feel of the film. That alone will satisfy a lot of moviegoers…it just didn’t satisfy me. I hope this isn’t a growing trend for the early summer movie season.
I still have my fingers crossed for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Frankenweenie. We’ll see, kids.