Reel Reviews | Dark Shadows

by Tim Gordon

An imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection in the Gothic comedy, Dark Shadows.

Based on the 1966 horror soap opera, the film is the eighth collaboration between director Tim Burton and his friend and star, Johnny Depp. Collins had the misfortune of not returning the love of a witch who had the vampire bound, chained and buried alive for two centuries until he resurfaces in 1972.

While the film has fun with the confused vampire trying to acclimate himself to his new surroundings and reality, the joke is short-lived and what you’re left with is a thinly disguised story with not a lot of depth. Eva Green is deliciously villainy but there’s only so much she can do. Helena Bonham Carter is her usually creepy self while Chloe Morentz seems to be the only one who can see that something is foul in Collinwood Manor. Depp and Burton are old pros with this type of material and in this film that familiarity breeds complacency.

Even with the considerable talents of Bonham Carter, Michelle Pfeiffer, Morentz Jackie Haley and Green, Dark Shadows simply stalls. The best parts of the film, unfortunately, are in the trailer. With the expectations of both Burton and Depp and a story that doesn’t work despite a ton of talent, this film is a major disappointment.

Notwithstanding 21 Jump Street, films based on TV shows have been utter failures. Whether it’s the change in tone or just lazy storytelling, I would not suggest studios making more films based on these shows. This film’s prospects are as bleak as its title!

Grade: C-