27 May 2012

Dark Shadows

My review comes a bit late-- especially considering I saw the movie last Sunday-- but I felt it was necessary to share my opinion anyway.
DISCLAIMER: this review is my opinion and I am in no way claiming my words are fact. Please don't be offended if you disagree: we can still be friends.

For those of you who missed the trailer, Dark Shadows is an adaptation of the TV series (never saw it) and follows the story of Barnabus Collins, a man cursed to be a vampire by a woman he spurned and who happened to be a witch. Brings a new meaning to that "hell hath no fury" business, doesn't it?

Anyway, Barnabus gets locked in a coffin for 200 years while the witch continues to curse his descendants over the generations. Once accidentally released in 1972, he returns to bring honor and prosperity back to his family, fight the witch, etc etc. It's directed by Tim Burton (Alice in Wonderland, Edward Scissorhands) and stars Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter and other actors whose films I've enjoyed but the names escape me. Full cast listing here.

Basically, I want the $22 my husband and I spent to see the movie returned, and if time travel was a thing I'd ask for those 2 hours back as well. Don't misunderstand, Dark Shadows isn't a "bad" film in the normal sense of acting or production value. It's BORING, which is worse than cheesy films because you can't laugh off boring. The actors knew what they were doing and everything looked pasty with bright pops of color like a typical Burton film. However, the story also makes absolutely no sense.  As someone attempting to break into the Biz as a screenwriter, plot holes, inconsistencies, bad dialogue, and things that just plain don't make any sense are all visible to me when I watch films like Dark Shadows. For example, some questions come to mind:

How is Barnabus Collins able to have descendants in the first place when he never married or impregnated anyone and had no siblings that we know of? (that stuff should, by the rules of story telling, be explained)

What is the witch's motivation behind tormenting Barnabus's family? It's not like he knew or she was going to dig him up and tell him. So what's the point inflicting pain when your victim is ignorant of it in the first place?

**NOTE: I have WAY more points but won't reveal them here because they'd give away the rest of the film-- and that's just mean. Message me if you want to keep discussing the movie: Lord knows I LOVE discussions.

Anyway, something to understand about good film/TV: everything means something. A moment with a faulty projector screen remote will be the key to solving the murder. A woman asking for a second teapot not only implies the first one was poisoned but that she's also in far more danger than she knows. In DS, there's a moment at the beginning where Barnabus is researching the occult-- a completely pointless scene since his research leads to NOTHING, not discovering the witch, not becoming a vampire, not finding a way to dismantle the curse. The movie is filled with these moments... that I can't mention since it would spoil things. GAH!

While the film is supposed to have the theme of a family's unshakable bond, the most interesting relationship dynamic is between Johnny Depp and Eva Green (the witch). The family is royally dysfunctional-- which is fine-- but there's no indication of deeper love, loyalty, or connection despite their faults. It doesn't work. There's no chemistry between anyone-- not even Depp and his love interest-- which makes everything awkward.

Honestly, as portrayed by this AMAZING College Humor video, Tim Burton's Secret Formula of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Danny Elfman, white makeup, black costumes, and a sweetly creepy scenario is TIRED. Separately, these people are extremely talented and when first brought together they created films we'd never experienced. Now it's been done (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and redone (Alice in Wonderland) and re-redone (Sweeney Todd) and overdone (Dark Shadows). Actually, with the exception of Sweeney Todd which I did not see, I didn't like any of these films and would love to see Burton walk away from the tired muse of his wife and Depp and go back to other actors and produce films like Big Fish, Beetlejuice, and Batman. Yes, Burton loves his black & white motif with a horror theme, but this shit is getting redundant. Hell, my review is getting redundant because that's how ridiculous Dark Shadows was.

I had high hopes for the film, thought it would be funny and weird... not so much. Maybe next time?

In summary: Rent Dark Shadows, don't pay theater prices.

P.S. Helena Bonham Carter is quite beautiful. Check out her IMDB photo.


  1. I actually enjoyed the film. But everyone has different opinions. I like your blog anyway ;)


  2. Thanks :) I'm extremely analytical when it comes to movies which is why I enjoy stuff like The Avengers and Jason Statham movies: you don't have to think!

  3. I felt let down by the movie but I had pretty low expectations going in. My fave part about the movie was actually the styling and visual aspects of the movie but then again, I am generally a big fan of Burton's estetic so it might just be a matter of personal taste...I agree though, it wasn't a great movie and it bordered on being just good for me...oh well...at least my mom enjoyed it?! LOL

  4. Exactly, then it's time well spent. Since you love his style so much you'll be excited to hear he's doing a reboot of "The Addams Family." More pale faces, black costumes, and weirdness for Burton fans!