Dark Shadows: Movie Review


Dark Shadows theatrical poster

The idea of a revival of the gothic soap opera, Dark Shadows, excited me. After hearing that it would be a Tim Burton movie (duh) I was even more excited.

I expected a signature twist on a classic show that I had already enjoyed. With previous movies like Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood, it seemed that Dark Shadows would have a similar, inviting style. Burton once used unique style, but more recently it has become hyper-stylized and cheap.

The film adaptation, however, was an airbrushed, cartoonish production. Burton’s exaggerated style, now a caricature of itself, was sickening in the sense that it seemed to involve so much effort to entertain. The individual film using the style he once used so well seemed to disappear with this film.

The movie focused on Barnabas Collins, a vampire and son of wealthy fishing merchants. Barnabas breaks the heart of a witch, Angelique, because of his growing interest for another woman, Josette. Angelique casts a spell on Josette leading her to voluntarily jump off a cliff to kill herself. Barnabas, following Josette to death, jumps off as well, but Angelique has turned him into a vampire, and cannot die. Barnabas is then buried alive for 200 years.

The rest of the story revolves around Barnabas’s return from the grave to his 1970s family. From here, we witness the cheap-looking and all too convenient setting of a ‘70s culture (rock! music! teens inspired by sexual freedom!).

We meet the Collins family and their struggle to maintain a market. These characters, presented poorly, are introduced with small jokes and poor script. The dialogue, which consisted of mainly ‘funny’ one-liners, was dull, and was consistently dry or obvious in terms of plot development.

We learn of inter-relationships and secret pasts, but it’s all amazingly unsurprising. Nowhere in the film can we grow close to the characters, simply because it’s hard to connect to characters that lack depth.

Someone should’ve really stepped in during production of this and said “enough.” It was a poor addition to Burton’s films, and was forced and imitative of previous and more successful movies of similar style.

Rating: 5/10

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