movie: Dark Shadows

dark shadows1

Description from IMDB: “In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet-or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy…until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin.”

Is that too much? I used the longer description this time.

I have mixed feelings about this movie. First, the setting. Collinwood Manor is very cool. For most of the story, it’s a dilapidated mansion in a nautical theme complete with seahorse statues everywhere. There’s a very good haunted house vibe about it.
The story begins with a tragedy. A witch takes everyone he loves from him, turns him into a vampire and then buries him alive. Think psycho stalker with magic powers.

The plot seemed sort of all over the place. I think they tried to cram too much into a short period of time. We have Barnabas back from the dead, his romance with the nanny who has some interesting problems of her own, a little boy who believes he can speak to his dead mother, their efforts to get the family business running again, a doctor who tries to help him resolve the vampire issue, and the thing with the witch. There’s a lot going on. It does start to come together eventually.

Watching Barnabas navigate the 70s is very funny. He’s confused by a lot of it, of course. He also has some issues getting along with the family members who occupy the house. They’re an eccentric bunch.

He’s also violent. He is a vampire, after all. Barnabas is this glorious mix of bloodthirsty and endearing and very into the ladies. And they like him, too.
Despite its shortcomings, Dark Shadows is fun to watch. It gets a B.


2 comments on “movie: Dark Shadows

  1. PDB says:

    I’m happy you liked this movie, because it got an unfair reception. I think that a lot of people simply stayed away, believing that “Dark Shadows” amounted to Burton and Depp horsing around for the umpteenth time. But honestly, if it wern’t for the last five minutes, when everything falls apart, I would give this movie an “A.” It has a soap opera flavor that differs from other Burton movies, and the lackadaisical pacing and matter-of-fact tone contrast with the lurid subject matter in an interesting way. In these days of cookie-cutter movies, Burton makes weird films that are difficult to categorize. He ought to be celebrated for trying to create films that are magical and different, even if he doesn’t always succeed.

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