Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dark Shadows - Movie Review


Dark Shadows is simply another reminder of why I never watch Tim Burton movies. I think this may be the last one I ever see. Rarely do I hate a movie as much as I hated Dark Shadows. If I had not gone to the theater with my mother in law (who loved the movie, so to each his own), I might have left. If I'm being totally honest, had I not been with her, I never would have gone in the first place.

Dark Shadows tells the story of Barnabas Collins, a man so desirable that a scorned witch kills his true love, curses him to vampirehood and buries him in a box for 200 years. He resurfaces in the 1970s, meets his descendants, and does some stuff. For two hours. I think the best summation of this film was already done by io9 in their review of the movie - that this movie could make all other vampire movies obsolete, as Dark Shadows actually makes you feel the soul crushing eternity of immortality. When a movie, like the recent Avengers, is three hours long but feels 15 minutes, the filmmaker has done a good job. When the movie is two hours in length and seems to go on for years, it is a catastrophe.

I don't think I have a single genuinely nice thing to say about this movie; I can't even complement the actors. While I do like Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, their continued affiliation with Burton is infuriating and makes me want to strike them both upside the head with a boxed set of Danny Elfman music. Carter and Eva Green's terrible American accents were upstaged only by Depp's British one. The rest of the cast was an utter waste, turning vaguely talented actors into boring shells of their former selves. If you've seen any other Burton movie, you have heard an Elfman score, so the music isn't even worth mentioning.

So, delightfully, on to the writing. The screenplay was helmed by Seth Grahame-Smith, the author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I haven't yet finished the book, so I can't say if this is true of all his writing, but my god, did this story drag. And meander. And although nothing seemed to happen, not a damn thing that did made any sense. Characters do things for utterly inexplicable reasons, backstories are given and then dropped, people simply wander out of the movie and are never seen again and so much new information is added in the last half hour it will make your head spin. There is a witch, and she has the ability to curse someone into being a vampire (ignoring all rules of vampirism in the process). There are also ghosts, hippies, a werewolf and for no apparent reason, Alice Cooper. I will admit, the only part of the movie I enjoyed was when Cooper was singing. No traditional rules of magic and supernaturality were followed - a major pet peeve of mine - and things seemed to have been made up entirely on the fly. 

The only redeeming quality of this movie - provided you like shots of waves crashing on rocks - is that there are at least 15 shots of waves crashing on rocks. Rather than using a fade like a normal editor, or even a clockwise wipe like Star Wars, this editor chose to insert footage of his holiday at the beach every chance he got. Over and over and over again.

Lastly, since it has been bothering me since yesterday, how the hell were there descendants of Collins if he had been an only child and never had children himself? Cutting off the family tree at that branch would have saved me a two hour headache.


  1. Maybe that's what's meant by "gags?"

  2. Good review Allison. It has some real moments that made me laugh and had me enjoyed, but Burton starts to lose himself by the end, therefore, he lost me. Could have been so much better and the only reason it is as good as it is, is because of Depp’s insane performance. Just could have been so much better and less lazy with its approach.