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Dark Shadows

  • 2012
  • PG-13
  • 113min
  • 37%
  • 6.2 / 10

In 18th-century, Barnabas Collins, a wealthy and powerful womanizer, is turned into a vampire and buried alive for eternity when he rejects the advances of a witch who had always pined for him. Two centuries have passed, and he inadvertently emerges from his tomb, only to discover that his ancestral home is on the brink of collapse, and the dysfunctional remnants of his family are in need of his help.

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Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, and Michelle Pfeiffer were massive fans of Dark Shadows during their younger years. Each one of them equally devoted their time, effort, and talent for the film. The project began with Warner Bros. optioning film rights for the soap opera from Dan Curtis. The studio then sold the property to Depp, who ended up persuading Burton that the project would be great for the two of them. The director came on board immediately.

Upon hearing this, Pfeiffer phoned Burton and asked him for a role in the film, which is something uncharacteristic of the actress. She then landed the role of Elizabeth Collins Stoddard. For Depp’s part, the actor had to go through a weight-loss regime and a green tea and low-sugar fruit diet. He lost almost a hundred and forty pounds before filming.

At the helm of the project, Burton also made sure that his film would reflect the milieu of its era. He showed Bruno Delbonnel, the film’s cinematographer, plenty of vampire films from the 1970s to help him get a grasp of how the film should look like.

Dark Shadows movie review

Dark Shadows is an adaptation of Dan Curtis’ late-60s supernatural soap opera. At the same time, it may as well be a semi-autobiographical tale of its director, Tim Burton. One can assume that a pubescent Burton felt the same displacement as the show's character in the era when Farrah Fawcett was in her prime, and the only inferno that was popular was Disco Inferno.

For the film, Burton exchanges the original blunders of the show - clunky sets, dry delivery, and booms in the shot - with high-end production value. Collinwood Manor was designed to look and feel dilapidated, while Danny Elfman's impressively brooding score is played over highly stylised acting that's but a hint of the film's amateur origins.

Johnny Depp also shared the same feeling as he used to run home from school to watch Jonathan Frid's portrayal of Barnabas. In the film, Depp wholly honors his childhood hero in which he succeeds in portraying the humorous and charming monster struggling to figure out what it means to be human. Just as well as the film does not have a compelling center, just a compelling central character. The film has a number of story strands that do not have equal importance but are all asking for equal attention. It is hard to tell in the beginning but the overarching plot of the film is Barnabas' feud with a witch named Angelique. Apart from the clashing story strands, Eva Green lacks ownership in her role as Angelique. Even during a Barry White-scored love scene, Green's portrayal never fully register as they should. The same goes for actors Jonny Lee Miller, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Gulliver McGrath. Thankfully, Michelle Pfeiffer is able to add grace and decadence as head of the household.

Beyond the homage to the late TV show, Burton's obsession with the flashy and gruesome parts of Goth gets full reign in this film. It is not the rough, slapstick comic performance promised in the trailer. Instead, it is still the dark and quirky styling of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp in tip-top form.

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about the movie

Dark Shadows (2012) is a horror comedy film directed by Tim Burton and written by Seth Grahame-Smith. It is based on the ABC television soap opera of the same title (1966 – 1971) and stars Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Bella Heathcote in two roles.