Dark Shadows draws its inspiration from the late 60’s Gothic soap opera of the same name. Is it remotely similar? Nope. The newly released film has more of a comedic/campy element to it whereas the beloved cult TV series was dead serious.
While the backstory is all the same, Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) is turned into a vampire by a ticked-off ex-lover who happens to be a witch, ironically named Angelique (Eva Green). Angelique buries Collins alive, and he is freed centuries later to live with his cousin Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer) and her family.
We’ve jumped forward a decade to the 70’s in order to “modernize” the classic cult series, and there is plenty of material for Collins to have fun mocking and creating laughs for the audience. Johnny Depp does a wonderful job at pumping life into Barnabus Collins, but ultimately the whole film overflows with campiness. At one point there is a rather intense and absurd sex scene between Depp’s and Green’s characters… From that point on to the rather laughably bad final scene, it’s impossible to really relate to any of the characters or feel invested at all in the film. Despite the solid team that is Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, Dark Shadows struggles to find its footing from the tone of the movie to the script and ultimately to the execution.
Is it entertaining? Sure. The actors are wonderful, the music is great, the costumes are flawless, and the eerie atmosphere is the perfect setting – But it would have been nice to have a bit more creepiness in the actual script instead of so much humor which ultimately falls flat leaving audiences with just a smirk on their faces if anything at all. I honestly believe most of the blame can safely be put on the script. Had the writers created something that was truly inspired by the original series, I think the overall results would have been much more wickedly good. What’s that famous saying… If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. The original story was loved by millions, why not give them a film that reminds them of just how much they loved Dark Shadows?
Overall, for a film that was inspired by a TV show with passionate fanbase, I think it’s safe to say that the fanbase is going to be pretty displeased with this modernized tale.
Review By: Emma Loggins