Friday, May 11, 2012

Dark Shadows Review

Hello Internet!  I'm a bit too young to have grown up with the original Dark Shadows television show.  From what I understand its production values were laughably bad, yet the drama was good enough to warrant over 1200 episodes total for the series.  Needless to say my main exposure to the property has been through the trailers for Tim Burton's latest team-up with Johnny Depp.  Both trailers were quite intriguing; they seemed more of a fish-out-of-water story with a good bit of comedic beats.  For the uninitiated, Depp plays Barnabus Collins, a man cursed by his former lover, Angelique (Eva Green), to be a vampire so she can one day earn his affections.  There is plenty more to the story but I honestly don't care enough to explain the finer points of the plot.  I unfortunately didn't like Dark Shadows nearly as much as I had hoped.

My main complaint is with the tone of the film.  I was hoping for a relatively laugh-heavy film with some dramatic beats thrown in.  That's not really what I got.  For the entire length of the film it seems to struggle with itself to determine what it is; comedy, drama, or horror film.  And it unfortunately doesn't fully commit to any of these...which results in somewhat of a mess of a film (tonally speaking).  The first act was quite entertaining, and held almost all of the jokes and gags that were present in the trailers.  There wasn't much comedy outside of those few moments.  I was genuinely entertained throughout the beginning, but as the film transitioned into more dramatic and dark beats, my enjoyment factor dropped considerably.

Another issue that I cannot avoid is the myriad loose ends that were not tied up.  There are several plot lines and characters that are introduced and not really explored or dealt with by the end.  The character we are introduced to first, Bella Heathcote's Victoria, seems to be our main lead.  Her story is quite interesting and compelling (except for a story thread that is completely forgotten by the end), yet she disappears almost completely from the film after Barnabus is introduced.  I don't have a problem with our "main" character taking a backseat to the real lead of the film as long as they aren't forgotten - which is exactly what happens here.  I have to also mention plot twists that literally come out of nowhere and make almost no sense beyond the fact that it was in the script.

I so desperately wanted to enjoy Dark Shadows, and there were scenes and performances that I did - overall the cast is pretty fantastic.  I am a huge fan of Chloe Grace Moretz and she has quite a fascinating and interesting character.  There were several scenes I enjoyed, with most of them pertaining to Barnabus being in awe of the new world he has stepped into.  Unfortunately that's where my enjoyment fell off.  Dark Shadows isn't a terrible film, nor is it even a bad film.  Technically speaking, there are some great shots and visual effects at play.  Tim Burton is quite a visual filmmaker and this is no exception.  I just wasn't a fan of the all-over-the-place tone.  If you enjoy the Burton/Depp dynamic you very well might enjoy the heck out of this film.  Unfortunately that isn't me.

Dark Shadows is a deeply flawed horror/drama/comedy that just can't decide what it is.

The Bearded Bullet.


  1. It has some real moments that made me laugh and had me enjoyed, but Burton starts to lose himself by the end, therefore, he lost me. Could have been so much better and the only reason it is as good as it is, is because of Depp's insane performance. Good review Kyle.