DVD Review: Dark Shadows


I want to hang on to the idea that since I've never watched the show on which Dark Shadows was based, I had trouble enjoying it. But I know that's not really the case...

After spurning a witch (Eva Green), Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) is turned into a vampire and locked away for two centuries. After being accidentally set free by a construction crew, Barnabas returns to his estate to find his dysfunctional descendants in desperate need of his help to rebuild the family's fishing business against the same witch that ruined him.

Though I feel as though I've been disappointed by Tim Burton for at least a decade now, I still find myself compelled to watch his films eventually. On the plus side, he can still make films that are visually striking (except for the CGI nightmare that was Alice in Wonderland) and get a fun performance out of Johnny Depp. Overall, I don't really expect much more and rarely get it.

Sadly, I was tricked with Dark Shadows. The film was actually a bit of fun in the beginning with a nice fish-out-of-water plot as Barnabas navigates the wacky 1970s and his new family of Michelle Pfeiffer, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloe Grace Moretz, Helena Bonham Carter and Jackie Earle Haley. It's all hammy and over-the-top, but it works. Barnabas is particularly entertaining because even though he is the protagonist of the story, he's still a vampire who must feed the old fashioned way. And Burton even manages to do a decent job fusing the psychedelic with the gothic.

Unfortunately, there is a final act in which everything simply falls apart. The witch shatters like glass while the obnoxious teenage daughter turned out to be a werewolf all along, but with no explanation. And as the family estate burns to the ground and Barnabas tries to save the reincarnation of his long lost love in the nick of time, it all just peters out, without any sort of proper ending. Until of course the promise (threat?) of a sequel stares us in the face. It's as if they just stopped writing the script.

So I've played the fool once more by suffering Mr. Burton's same old antics. I'd like to say it won't happen again, but I know I'd be lying.

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