Dark Shadows

Directed by: Tim Burton

Written by: Seth Grahame-Smith (Screenplay/Story), John August (Story)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Chloe Grace Moretz, Johnny Lee Miller, Alice Cooper and Eva Green

Dark Shadows is the 8th collaboration between Depp and Burton and sees them translate the 1966–1971 series of the same name to the big screen. Opening in 1775 and Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp), wealthy heir to the Collins fortune, refuses to pronounce his love for a household servant Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), who turns out to be a powerful witch. When he finds his true love in Josette DuPres (Bella Heathcote), Angelique curses the Collins family, kills Josette and turns Barnabas into a vampire and imprisons him for 200 years. Fast forward to 1972, Barnabas is set free and begins a crusade to restore the Collins name and exact revenge on his wiccan tormenter.

The direction is characteristically Burton: a mixture between genuinely horrific elements and using those same tropes to subvert the creepy and play for laughs. I enjoyed the pastel 70s colour palette contrasted with the bleak gothic palette that called back to the contrast between the spirit world and the real world in Beetlejuice. Burton's a wonderful filmmaker with a great back catalogue of classics but everything recent that he's produced feels like it's lifting elements from his 'classics.'

Seth Grahame-Smith's script surprised me with some adult jokes that I was not expecting in what appeared to be a very 'kiddy' film, one particular joke from Gulliver McGrath's David that elicited an uncontrollable chuckle. However, Barnabas 'out of his time' everything "1972" (*said in Depp's Barnabas voice) element - especially the musical guest that had as much screen time as a Disney song - well and truly emptied the well by the end of the film.

Courtesy of EW.com

Johnny Depp's Barnabas is a loveable sociopath. I liked the dichotomy between this fumbling confused out of time man and the thirst of his curse. I couldn't get past the characterization. Depp's Barnabas exudes a hypnotic allure for the ladies in the film that was totally unconvincing. The cutesy Herman Munster/Bela Lugosi hair and Wonka (Charlie) awkwardness made some of the sexual interaction perverse. Johnny Depp's roles lost in dress-up, made up within an inch of his life and looking like a man-child (Sweeney Todd, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dark Shadows) are getting quite tiresome. When I watch him playing the dapper, dangerous and morally complex Dillinger in Public Enemies I'm transfixed.

It was nice to see the sultry and sensual Michelle (Catwoman) Pfeiffer looking great in a smallish role. Helena Bonham Carter's Dr. Julia Hoffman is underused and in an auto-pilot that's become characteristic of the roles that she plays in her hubby's films. Bonham Carter's performances in films like Fight Club and The King's Speech reach stratospheric heights that pale this role.  Eva Green's Angelique is a lovely object of sexual temptation, and has fun as a sexy wicked witch - she's aesthetically memorable and actually convinces you that she's attracted to Barnabas (which is no mean feat).The highlight of the film for me was the transformative performance of Chloe Grace Moretz (a.k.a Hit Girl). The once cute child actor imbues Carolyn with haughty disinterest and petulance; bundled her with uncontrollable teen hormones. It gave me a lot of hope for the upcoming Carrie remake.

Dark Shadows has some sporadic moments of fun but on the whole it's an inferior recycled mash-up of Burton's style and Depp's characteristic quirky characters from their eight collaborations. 

[rating=2]

Blake Howard - follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman

Dark Shadows was released in Australia on the 10th of May 2012, in the U.S.A on the 11th of May 2012. 

BLAKE HOWARD IS A FILM CRITIC & THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF/CO-FOUNDER OF AUSTRALIAN FILM BLOG GRAFFITI WITH PUNCTUATION . BLAKE IS THE HOST OF THE ONE HEAT MINUTE PODCAST. BLAKE IS ALSO A MEMBER OF THE PRESTIGIOUS ONLINE FILM CRITIC SOCIETY (AND A MEMBER OF THE GOVERNING COMMITTEE), IS A CO-HOST OF GAGGLE OF GEEKS ON SYDNEY'S 2SER COMMUNITY RADIO, A COLUMNIST AT THE AUSTRALIAN ONLINE INSTITUTION DARK HORIZONS AND SWAYS THE TOMATO METER WITH ROTTEN TOMATOES APPROVED REVIEWS.