“Dark Shadows” is based off the “Dark Shadows” TV series. The series aired from 1966-1971, and featured the late Jonathan Frid as the vampire, Barnabas Collins. Unfortunately, I never saw the series, but imagine it must have been a good show for it to last so long being based on a vampire. Now it is time for Johnny Depp to step into the role of Barnabas Collins with Tim Burton working his magic behind the scenes.
A young Barnabas and his parents make the trip across the sea to start a new life in America. They build their home in a town that is named after them, Collinsport, Maine. Living the life of a young rich guy, Barnabas gets mixed up with several girls, including one named Angelique (Eva Green). Unknown to him, she is a witch who puts a curse on him, and his family. Not only does she turn him into a vampire, but punishes him by burying him alive. Barnabas has been in the ground for over 200 years until he is finally dug up, and awakens in a much different time period.
Going into to this movie I expected it to be heavy on the comedy. There is humor sprinkled throughout, but there are times the movie gets too wrapped up in the story. While it’s not a bad story, it becomes tiresome at times. After an introduction back into the real world, Barnabas tries to reestablish the Collins fishing business while protecting his family. Angelique still loves Barnabas, and will continue to be a thorn in his side as long as he has his heart set on another woman, Josette/Victoria (Bella Heathcote). Conflict between the two continues to occur until there is a final showdown.
Back to the humor, it is amusing, but isn’t going to knock you out of your seat. Most of the good humor happens when Barnabas is introduced to things for the first time in 1972 such as, the road, a troll, and a lava lamp. They really miss an opportunity to be even funnier by limiting Johnny’s lines in certain spots. For example, there is a scene where Barnabas is renovating the house. The audience sees Barnabas show up in different comical spots watching the action. It would have been funnier if Barnabas had said something witty in more of those quick shots. There is also an awkward, but silly sex scene with Barnabas and Angelique rolling all over the place. Again, the scene is short a clever line or two once they get rolling.
Don't get me wrong, Johnny is every bit as good in this movie. I wasn't sure Colin Farrell would make a good vampire in “Fright Night”, but he put on a good performance. Johnny, well being a huge fan of his, I had no concerns. Not only is he good delivering his lines, but also his mannerisms really give Barnabas character. Besides Barnabas, the next most interesting character is Angelique. Eva does a good job handling her character’s awkwardness while still being evil. One of the most interesting things about Angelique is that she is a fragile witch. Yes, fragile like porcelain that can be easily cracked. Whenever she gets hit, she cracks, but will soon recover. It is a nice touch creating a witch with something a little different about her.
As far as some of the other cast members go, Michelle Pfeiffer puts in a solid performance as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard. Bella does a good job splitting her time as Victoria Winters and Josette DuPres in her limited screen time. Jackie Earle Haley looked the part of Willie Loomis, but it might have been better if he could have been a little funnier instead of just a dumb servant. Chloe Grace Moretz plays the angry teen, Carolyn Stoddard, well, but I swear I couldn’t understand what she said in a few scenes.
Being a Tim Burton film, it doesn’t fall short providing a nice visual experience. The great visual ride starts with the opening scene taking place in 1752, as the Barnabas family boards a ship. The Collins home is very fascinating, especially all the secret passages, and hiding spots. The house has some unusual designs that they make good use of later in the movie. Not only do they create the perfect house for the Collins family, particularly Barnabas, but also they create a fine little fishing town to go with it.
To sum it up, this is a good movie, but it could have been a lot better. The acting is solid across the board, and the look of the movie is great. I expected it to be full of humor, almost to the point where I would have to complain about it being over done. Instead, they needed to commit a little more to the humor in certain spots, and not go overboard with the storytelling. With that said, I give this movie 2.5 pools of blood.