Dark Shadows (2012) Film Review
The story subculture that is vampires is not a genre that I’m curious about. It has never been a “thing” that captures my fancy. I don’t get the “romanticism” of them nor their appeal. While legions of fans once screamed over the Twilight saga or debating the pros and cons of team Edward vs. team Jacob, I went with less bizarre premises. Unfortunately I did succumb to this movie and wasn’t nearly as impressed as I might have been.
When he was a boy, Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) immigrated to America. This shapes him into the person he is today. The small town his family settles in even earns the family name. Many years later, Barnabas’ sole goal in life is finding the truth of his parent’s death. Once a playboy, his past wrongs and the women he spurned become second to the woman in his life – his true love, Josette. Tragically, she dies leaving Barnabas lost, and Barnabas falls into depression.
Unable to live without the love of Barnabas, who spurned her, Angelica curses Barnabas to live as a vampire. But in a twist of fate, the 1970’s unlocks him from his prison. Once he is free, he returns to his family home and meets his descendants. This includes Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer) and her teenage daughter Carolyn (Chloë Grace Moretz). Not unlike his own life, Barnabas discovers that even in this new era, shadows threaten his family. There’s a wicked executive (Eva Green) about to take over the family business and a mysterious newcomer called Vicki (Bella Heathcote).
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Right or wrong, I can admit that I really did want to like this movie; mostly because of Johnny Depp whose unique characterizations is always fueled by his talent. If there is one decent thing about the movie, it would be the cast. It has some great talent including Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Lee Miller and Jackie Earle Haley. Plus the visionary director Tim Burton is behind the camera. Bizarre is perhaps the best way to sum this movie up. It’s creative – or could have been – but the humor is overdone, and is in fact, all showcased in the trailers. It’s the trailers that make a first impression, but when you go into a movie expecting that humor to pace out the entire film, you tend to feel ever the slightest bit cheated.
Based on a television of the same name from the 1960’s, Dark Shadows presents some unique perspectives. Unfortunately, it doesn’t capitalize on this. That said, there are some things to like. For one, the vibe is neat with its Gothic looks, all of which the massive old family mansion supports. When we see all of this come alive, this is just another typical Burton film. Anyone who’s a fan of his works may enjoy this because of his usual visionary. Also amusing is walking with Barnabas as he attempts to navigate the modern conveniences such as the television or the means of transportation in automobiles instead of horse-drawn carriages.
What I did not like are the turns the story takes into the “grisly” nature of vampires. Also disappointing is how the writer’s end things. It’s almost as if, by the end, they’re out of a more creative, satisfying end. Although to be fair, it does match the mood of the story. In case my thoughts haven’t said as much, I cannot easily recommend this. Even if you like the cast or Tim Burton, this one just feels “off.” It could have been clever but the whole vampire scenario is too goofy (or gross?).
Nonetheless, if you like seasonal movies, then Dark Shadows may be exactly what you’re looking for.
(Disclosure: this post does contain affiliate links; if you buy anything through these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Read the disclosure page for details.)You can own or rent Dark Shadows digitally on Amazon Video or buy on DVD. A #Gothic fantasy I don't really care for (even #Johnny Depp doesn't save it), but for the season, I'm re-sharing this old review: what do you think of this fantasy? Dark Shadows - Gothic Comedy about a Vampire Click To Tweet
(Content: The film is PG13 but borders on an R-rating simply because of the implications. There is a semi-graphic sex scene – meant to be “funny” but it’s out of place and quite preposterous; and implications of other adult material as regards a teenage girl. There are two instances of Barnabas killing victims; he drains them of their blood. One character is impaled. There is also references to other occult issues. Twice, characters jump off the edge of a cliff. Crude language couples with standard-issue profanity, including d*mn, h*ll and sh*t and a few misuses of deity. Immodest dress.)