Dark Shadows ****

Running time: 113 mins Certificate: 12A

 

Synopsis: In 1752, Maine Barnabas Collins (Depp) spurns the love of witch Angelique Bouchard (Green). She sends his beloved Josette DuPres (Heathcote) to her death, turns Barnabas into a vampire and then buries him alive. Flashforward to 1972, Barnabas returns and vows to restore the family name to its former glories.

It has taken many years for Johnny Depp to bring his pet project to life, but with his friend Tim Burton’s help the film based on Dan Curtis’ late-60s supernatural soap has finally seen the light of day.

 

This is not the silly comedy that the enjoyable trailer makes this film out to be, but rather a weird blend of gothic quirkiness with serious black melodrama. In essence it is really a mishmash of The Addams Family, Death Becomes Her and even in some part Burton’s own classic Beetlejuice.

 

The movie is a really strange adaptation as tonally it is all over the place. At times it can be dark and foreboding, then completely shift gear to a farcical type comedy. Best selling author Seth Grahame-Smith (Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter) appears to struggle with the multiple character scenarios and what strand of the stories should take precedence within the overall piece.But on thinking the plot is fractually structured just like a soap opera would be and this could be the intention. But by doing this some of the minor characters are slightly waisted.

 

Depp’s Barnabas is a brilliantly fantastic creation that is definitely up there with his best creations and delivers most of the best lines. The vampire is a funny, charismatic monster who not only is struggles to figure out how to live in this time, but also what it means to be human.Pfeiffer brings a touch of class as the head of the household and is seems to be more concerned by the state of the family name than her own teen daughter Carolyn (Chloë Grace Moretz). While Bonham Carter and Earle Haley give memorable performances which appear to be influenced on Simpsons characters. Unfortunately both   the characters of uncle Roger (Miller) and his troubled son David (McGrath) make little impression with their underwritten roles.

 

The film is stunning shot with scenes reminiscent of Sleepy Hollow and fantastic costumes. The best thing is that Burton has relied less on CGI effects this time and focused on more a physical look. Danny Elfman haunting score is beautifully blended with some great classic 70’s songs.

 

While the film has faults mostly due to script problems and underused characters, it is a very enjoyable experience and sees Burton turn back to strange, funny character pieces that he used to make at the start of his career.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

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