Dark Shadows is at its best when it’s completely deliciously melodramatic. This movie is strange, funny, sweet, weird, and evil. And you know what? I liked it.

Dark Shadows

Starring: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bohem, Chloe Grace Moretz,
Jonny Lee Miller, Bella Heathcote, and Eva Green

Premise: Barnabas Collins is the son of a wealthy fisherman, who rebuilt a town into a thriving fishing town. With a big house and good looks, Barnabas seems to have it all. After breaking the heart of his former lover, Angelique, in one fell swoop she kills his parents, killed his current lover, cursed him as a vampire and buried him “alive” in a coffin for the rest of eternity. Talk about a woman scorned… Cue 200 years later, the Age of Aquarius to be exact, when Barnabas is freed and returns to Collinsport to help the new generation of the Collins family rebuild his father’s now dying business.

My Review: It takes a certain kind of person to get Tim Burton. His work is dark and dramatic as well as melodramatic. His characters are strange and unusual and, well, there’s just something off about his movies. A lot of people don’t get it. I on the other hand love it. I get him, I don’t know why. And love him or hate him, you can’t deny his creativity.

Dark Shadows, is based off an old TV soap series of the 70’s and Burton’s use of soapy elements is key to making this movie work. Let’s do some math here. TV Soaps are over the top, Burton is way over the top, therefore juicy vampire soap + visually stunning, dark, twisted Tim Burton = visually stunning, dark, twisted vampire soap opera.

Sometimes Tim Burton’s character can be hit or miss. Edward Scissorhands : Hit, BeetleJuice: Hit, Willy Wonka: Miss, White Queen: Miss, Mad Hatter: Hit and miss. Well, Barnabas Collinsport was a definite hit for me. Barnabas is arguably the most relatable Burton character Depp has played since Edward Scissorhands. The thing I love about Johnny Depp when he works with Tim Burton, is that he puts his whole self into the character (He does this in Pirates too). I think he is most comfortable playing eccentric characters  in heavy make-up. There’s just something about Depp that makes him completely watchable. And when he speaks as Barnabas, he pronounces every syllable as if he is reciting a poem. That in itself is mesmerizing.

But with a great lead you need equally great supporting characters. Michelle Pfeiffer (the matriarch of the house), Helena Bohem Carter (the creepy drunk psychiatrist), Chloe Grace Moretz (the sullen, cranky teen of the 70’s) , Jonny Lee Miller (the greedy, jerk father) and Eva Green are all just as creepy, quirky, and strange as Depp which makes this movie work. But possiblly the best performance is that of Eva Green’s. She is so evil it is almost cartoonish. But it works. While for some that may be a turn off, we have to remember, this is a melodramatic soap we’re watching. So we should just enjoy the fun of it all. Eva Green plays Angelique Bouchard, the witch who cursed Barnabas. She is delusional and malicious, striking our “hero” where it hurts the most whenever he seems to gain an inch. But her bitterness and resentment is really just the product of a broken heart. And that realization brings me to my favorite moment of the movie.

Burton has a wonderful way of taking how a character feels figuratively and showing it to the audience literally: broken hearted, crumbling to pieces, shattered. And those moments are breathtaking.

I won’t pretend that this movie is for everyone. And it’s not a movie you should take seriously. But if you’re a fan of Burton, vampires that kill, the 70’s, campy, soapy dramas, and Johnny Depp, then you’ll enjoy this movie.

 

Rating: 3 Stars (out of 5).

 

 

 

 

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