By Iain Graham
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Tim Burton has teamed up with Johnny Depp to make a movie in which Depp plays a ghostly pale character who arches his eyebrows a lot, and also Helena Bonham Carter is in it.
No, we’re not talking about Alice in Wonderland. Or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Or Sweeney Todd, for that matter.
No, we’re not talking about those movies because, well, they’re old and talking about old movies is what IMDb and Wikipedia are for. I mean, this is a review, people! And reviews are supposed to be CUTTING-EDGE! Yeah! No one wants to read a review of a movie that’s been reviewed a thousand times before, right? That’s why this CUTTING-EDGE review is about Dark Shadows, a movie so CUTTING-EDGE, I’m not even sure what I think about it yet!
…Which I suppose is kind of a problem.
So let’s start with the basics:
In this dark and quirky retelling of a 1960s vampire soap opera, Johnny Depp portrays Barnabas Collins, a wealthy womanizer living in a mansion in Maine in the 1700s. All is well and good until one day, Barnabas womanizes a bit too much (as womanizers are wont to do) and ends up breaking the heart of a witch by the name of Angelique (Eva Green).
As it turns out, jilting a witch isn’t such a hot idea. Of course, Barnabas finds this out the hard way. Angelique curses him and turns him into a vampire, sets the townspeople against him (“Vampires? Not in my backyard!”), and drags him out into the middle of the woods where he is shoved into a coffin and buried alive. Since he’s a vampire, and thus more or less immortal, it’s presumed that he’s just supposed to kind of hang out there for the rest of time. Talk about getting some “alone time.” Yeesh.
Flash to 200 years later. It’s 1972 and Barnabas is accidentally unearthed by some rather unfortunate construction workers. Now in a world he can’t even begin to understand, Barnabas returns to his beloved mansion, Collinwood, and finds that things aren’t quite the way he left them. His descendants (Michelle Pfeiffer, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloe Moretz, Gulliver McGrath) are now living their sordid lives in the dilapidated home with an alcoholic psychiatrist (Helena Bonham Carter) and a governess (Bella Heathcote) who bares more than just a passing resemblance to Josette, Barnabas’ last great love. Determined to restore his family name to its former glory, and to get some measure of revenge against the apparently immortal Angelique, who by this point pretty much runs the town, Barnabas must adjust to this new world and confront the demons of his past. Literally.
So what works in this movie?
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