Taunting the audience with trailers that promise a quirky horror flick with a lot of cool ghouls, wacky witchery and comedic moments the movie Dark Shadows delivers. Using Johnny Depp to his utmost bizarre performance capabilities the film gives it’s all for fans of his past legendary roles like Edward Scissorhands, Sweeny Todd, Willy Wonka, Mad Hatter, and Jack Sparrow. This time however, he’s really gone off the deep end with a deliciously delectable portrayal of Barnabas Collins, a childish vampire.
The film opens in the year 1750 with Barnabas Collins (Depp), a wealthy fish merchant chasing the beautiful Josette (Bella Heathcote) running to the edge of a cliff. Being cursed for rebuking her affections the witch Angelique (Eva Green) has put a vampire spell on Barnabas. Before Barnabas can save Josette from certain death, she jumps and with tears in his eyes he joins her in a leap to the rocks below.
Fast forward to 1972 with the dysfunctional descendant Collins’s living in Barnabas’s huge estate that has been slowly decaying from lack of money. The town of Collinsport still exists, but just happens to be in the hands of Angelique who has taken over the fishing industry. When Barnabas emerges from his coffin the blood sucking begins and things start to spiral out of control.
Typical Tim Burton his direction of this seventy’s television series cult classic doesn’t resemble more than fifteen minutes of the original weekly show, and that’s a good thing. With his creativity flowing brightly, Burton makes his film original and delightfully distasteful. Using nearly every trick from his popular artistry that made Corpse Bride, Alice In Wonderland and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street so diabolically fascinating he moves his characters through a labyrinth of dark sequences keeping his story comical while delivering distasteful bloodletting.
Did I say Dark Shadows keeps it’s audience mesmerized especially for Johnny Depp lovers who just can’t get enough of his brilliant egoism? I like the acting of Depp in this film and I can’t see anyone other than he in the role. Much like his Scissorhands and Mad Hatter performances, one goes to see him prance, befuddle, boast and most of all entertain in a way only Depp can.
The support cast does an excellent job of providing the characters needed to make Barnabas the humorous creature he delivers. Keeping it a contest, Eva Green makes her witch very demanding, sexy and menacing, especially when she wants to get her way. Turning Barnabas into a vampire is her way of punishing him for not taking her as his bride yet her choice of evil spells however, becomes her Achilles heel.
I could go on and on, but in keeping with my promise to keep my reviews short and direct this will be all you get of Dark Shadows. Except for one thing, the vampire plot has worn thin over the years with comedy spiked fantasy shows like The Munsters, The Addams Family, Buffy the Vampire Killer, Fright Night, Twilight, The Lost Boys, The Little Vampire and many more. However if you haven’t had your fill of Johnny Depp, love vamp films or are a fan of the original TV show, then none of the things mentioned in this paragraph will mean a thing.
Dark Shadows has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for comic horror violence, sexual content, some drug use, language and smoking.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A Depp fantasy feast for his fans. ★★★★★★
Additional Film Information: