Movie Review: Dark Shadows

Cast: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Chloe Grace Mortez

Director: Tim Burton

The trailer will vaguely remind you of The Addams Family, the satirical version of the ideal American family. But that’s the end to it. Dark Shadows draws its inspiration from the late 60’s gothic vampire soap opera of the same name. But don’t cringe at the mention of vampire because this one won’t disappoint you.

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s eighth collaboration is unlikely to be their most celebrated work. But the film isn’t a bad watch either. The movie highly relies on the performance of Johnny Depp as the pale faced vampire, Barnabas Collins. Our bloodsucking vampire who is befuddled by the huge sign of McDonalds as he mistakes it to be a sign from the Mephistopheles vows to restore the glory of the Collinwood family. Eva Green as the evil witch Angelique Bouchard who epitomizes hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, manages to take away screen time from Depp.

Dark Shadows is a fish-out-of-water story. After all, we have the famous Barnabas Collins resurrected from his coffin in 1972 after 200 years. Imagine the plight of a vampire who is thrown in the settings of an era of rock n roll. The prologue reveals how Barnabas Collins has been cursed to live as a spiteful vampire; the outcome of a fling with a witch who craves nothing more than his attention. The best part of watching the movie is the gothic setting with witches and vampires walking among the living. It adds its own charm to the entire film; something that only a director like Tim Burton can explore. With good cinematography from Bruno Delbonnel and with Rick Heinrich’s notable production design, the movie is visually impressive.

Dark Shadows fails to score when it comes to a good story. The plot spins off in many directions. The film involves the burgeoning romance between Barnabas and Victoria – the spitting image of Josette; his love back from the 18th century.  And then we have the sultry Angelique lusting after Barnabas. The supporting cast that comprises Helena Bonham Carter as the scotch drinking live-in shrink of the family, Michelle Pfeiffer as the woman behind the family, Chloe Grace Moretz as the sullen teen daughter and a motherless 10 year old played by Gulliver McGrath, don’t manage to pick the plot up either. There are not many surprises in store for you. That aside, the movie has a dash of comedy with Grahame Smith’s dialogues and a deadpan performance by Depp. Dark Shadows is fun to watch but it is not a film that will make you fall off the chair laughing. With the lukewarm response the movie seems to attract, it depends on how high your expectations are when it comes to the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp duo. And although the movie seems to be above average and not meant for everyone, I’ll confess that I didn’t mind watching it.

- Esha Chanda

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