Follow Us on Twitter

Dark Shadows - Review

Dark Shadows

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

THE eighth cinematic outing between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp is a film that you may want to like more than you actually do.

A labour of love inspired by their joint passion for the cult TV soap opera of the same name (which ran from 1966 to 1971), Dark Shadows is ultimately a film of good moments that fail to add up to an entirely satisfying whole.

Depp plays Barnabus Collins, first introduced as the playboy son of a Maine fishing family in the 18th Century whose decision to spurn the advances of amorous witch Angelique (Eva Green) has dire consequences for his one true love and sees him being turned into a vampire and buried alive.

Resurrected some 200 years later Barnabus resolves to restore his family’s prosperity while gaining revenge on Angelique and finding an unlikely second chance at love.

Burton’s film is as visually striking as ever and thematically well within his comfort zone but it seems to be trying too hard to please on every level and often comes up short.

The romance is under-played and underwhelming, the Gothic horror a little too bloodless and 12A friendly and the humour fun but sometimes out of keeping with the darker elements.

Burton spends too much time having Barnabus get used to his new ’70s environment (albeit with a great soundtrack backing) and not enough time making the supporting cast of characters stand out.

Hence, the likes of Michelle Pfeiffer (reuniting with the director for the first time since Batman Returns), Johnny Lee Miller, Chloe Moretz and even Helena Bonham Carter feel under-developed and wasted – a failing that becomes all the more apparent come the big finale when several revelations lack any kind of impact.

Depp emerges, as ever, as the main reason for seeing it, his Barnabus proving to be a wonderfully deadpan freak (the like of which, admittedly, he has created before), and Green is also good value as his suitably vampish adversary.

Yet while Dark Shadows does keep you reasonably entertained and occasionally amused, it looks destined to exist in the shadows of this particular partnership’s best work.

It’s a fascinating oddity but one that ultimately feels like a missed opportunity.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 113mins
UK Release Date: May 11, 2012