Movie Review: Dark Shadows (**)

Movie Review: Dark Shadows (**)


Genre: Horror Comedy, TV Adaptation, Tim Burton (he's a genre unto himself at this point)

Premise: After being turned into a vampire by a malicious witch (Eva Green) and buried alive, Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) awakens centuries later to the year 1972 and returns to his ancestral home to help his dysfunctional clan save the family canning business.

Behind-the-Scenes: This is the eighth pairing of director Tim Burton and his muse Johnny Depp.  The screenplay is credited to Seth Grahame-Smith (Pride & Prejudice and Zombies; Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter).  Based on the television soap opera that ran from 1967 to 1972.

The Good: With Burton at the helm, you're at least guaranteed some beautifully gothic production design, and Dark Shadows doesn't disappoint on that level.  Together with the cinematography and the costumes, there is plenty of eye candy.  Eva Green chomps through the scenery with spirited abandon, giving the best performance in the movie.  The frenzied climax set in the Collins mansion happily brought back memories of Death Becomes Her.

The Bad:  Tonally all over the place.  Burton's twisted sense of humor fails him here.  Dark Shadows is neither funny nor scary, and not all that melodramatic given its soap opera origins.  It's not even that twisted or weird - just dumb.  Watch either of the Addams Family movies to see how this sort of thing should be done.  The script is largely unfocused, introducing subplots and supporting characters of reasonable interest, and then jettisoning them in favor of more fish-out-of-water jokes.  Depp is fine, but his performance lacks any sort of edge or surprise.  We've seen him do his heavily made-up freak show character before, and Barnabas is just more of the same.  When is Burton going to make a good movie again?  He needs to stop adapting and remaking things.

Should You See It?:  No.  For Burton-Depp completists only.

Rating: ** out of 5 stars.


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