‘Dark Shadows’ Underwhelms, Despite the Stellar Cast

Confession time: one evening recently I was sitting at my parents’ house and when the commercial for Dark Shadows came on my mother started laughing and got all excited. I was intrigued that she was so into this movie, as fantasy and horror are definitely not her thing. But she clarified for me that this movie is based off of a 70’s TV show she really enjoyed.  I had no idea, and since I had already signed up to review it for Lytherus, my mom joined me for a movie date.

The premise is this: Barnabas Collins (played by Johnny Depp) is a dashing young man in colonial Maine, son of the founder of the town and loved by many. He has a fling with the maid of the house Angelique (Eva Green), but when she asks to hear him say “I love you,” and he won’t, she kills his parents by making a statue fall on them. Oh yeah, she’s a witch. Things only get worse when Barnabas falls for the beautiful Josette (Bella Heathcote), so to get revenge Angelique forces Josette to fall to her death and causes Barnabas to become a vampire so he can eternally feel his loss. To exacerbate this she chains him in a coffin and buries him alive.

Two hundred years later some workers digging a pipe line find his coffin, and Barnabas is let back into the world. His future relatives are still living in his old house, but the family fishery business is in the can. He integrates himself into their lives, determined to return the family to its former glory.

I am sad to say that this movie really did nothing for me. There were a lot of things that made me excited to see it: the fact that it’s a Tim Burton film with actors Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Lee Miller, and Helena Bonham-Carter of course. The commercial had some funny one-liners, mainly from Depp’s character, and the fact that it was in the 1970’s added an amusing dynamic. But none of these things redeemed this movie in the end.

All the good lines and scenes were shown in the previews, so I was expecting a much funnier, wittier movie from the sample the film peeps provided. And there was some attempt at the dramatic during the “tense” scenes and the climax, but though Danny Elfman’s score flowed nicely, the movie didn’t match up with the striking music.

Also, though reality is suspended from the start since we’re dealing with a witch and a vampire, towards the end of the movie things went from expected fantasy to just plain weird. Strange things were sort of thrown in haphazardly, and it became almost comical. That’s really where the movie lost me.

All in all, this movie was a disappointment. The only redeeming factors I can think of are the awesome 70’s soundtrack and the fact that Johnny Depp gets to make out a lot(which was almost weird to see, as he doesn’t do that often in his movies). My mom liked it, so I guess not all was lost. She didn’t say though if it was similar to the show, so if there are any fans of the old show who happen to see this movie, drop us a line and let us know your thoughts!

Dark Shadows hit theaters on May 11th.

Posted on by Lauren Zurchin



  • Argetlampuppeh

    Really enjoyed the movie (though I never saw trailers for it) due to the mix of Jonny’s acting, and the character he was assigned to play. In a world where too many action flicks involve little to no substance, and too many vampire films are all romance, it was nice to see a character who’s obsession wasn’t women or big explosions, but family, and a rather spectacular house.