From the original television series Dark Shadows in the mid-Sixties, the new movie remake concentrates on the concerns of the retired Collins family. Extraordinary characters played by famous actors, directed of course by Tim Burton himself and one interesting vampire. Dark Shadows goes to great lenghts, but in the end you will feel something is still missing.
There have been several attempts to pick up this show. It was no surprise that when Burton did it himself, casting did not seem a problem. The main role of the damned, eccentric vampire went to Johnny Depp. Dark Shadows marked the 8th collaborating title between Burton and Depp (!). Furthermore, Burton casted Helene Bonham Carter as the female doctor and Chloe Moretz as the hormone raging teenager. The householder role of Elizabeth Collins is played by Michelle Pfeiffer. Eva Green plays the antagonist, Angelique Bouchard.
If you are not familiar with the story, it’s about a vampire who is locked up and freed after being for about 200 years in a coffin. His hometown, the one his parents built, has changed and so have his family. Oh, I almost forgot, a witch ‘loves’ him. Yes, it’s a comedy.
Visually, Dark Shadows is a big feast. There are so many visual elements to make it all look much more than it is. The costumes and makeup have a great contribution in the various appearances. The classic vampire was portrayed outstandingly. Well, I didn’t expect anything else from Burton. But also Collinsport, the town, surely is a piece to clap for. Compliments all the way.
What are the problems then? Actually there is only one big problem. Due to the fact that there are so many characters, there is little time left to introduce them clearly so as to the audience gets to know what exactly their motivations are. This takes away the ability to understand the plot: it’s all very vague at the beginning. And finally in the end one will certainly feel something is missing. Newsflash: everything is present but the movie goes to literally all directions in its storyline. So when you would ask me ‘what is the purpose of the story?’, I would answer ‘I have no idea’. Nobody does and nobody will.
Dark Shadows is pretty amusing, but its story weaknesses make it far from a recommendable movie.