Truth moment – I never watched Dark Shadows on TV, as I was made in the 80’s. Nor did I watch the reboot in the 90's. But still, it having been the very first show about vampires must have been pretty cool back then. I am sure the topic must have had some criticism, unlike today, where vampires are everywhere.
From what I understand, in the TV version, Jonathan Frid as Barnabus Collins was quite popular. However, in this film adaptation, I was able to see Barnabus played by someone much more important. That man, ladies and gents, is the incomparable Johnny Depp. The film was directed by Tim Burton and has a great cast besides Mr. Depp: Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard, Chloe Moretz as Carolyn Stoddard, Gulliver McGrath as David Collins, Bella Heathcote as Victoria Winters / Josette du Pres and Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. Julia Hoffman, to name more than a few.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect from Dark Shadows. I kept hearing from friends that “the TV show was not funny, why does the movie seem funny”? Well friends, I don’t know, and I don’t care. Obviously, they wanted to breathe new life (forgive the pun) into it for a new audience. Honestly, the sarcasm-laced comedy was one of my favorite parts of the film. I don’t think I would have particularly liked a more serious version of the movie. We all know Burton movies are dark, yes, but they all have that certain snark that has become synonymous of his work. I think that the plot of the movie played out well, again, with my not knowing what I am supposed to see in correlation to the show. There were, in my opinion, a few surprises that were kind of odd. (Carolyn being a werewolf was a little out of left field.) I definitely would have liked little bit more of the growing relationship between Barnabus and Victoria interspersed between the main plot. This was a main gripe of mine. After all, she is Barnabus' love interest. Their combined characters were too cast-off in terms of the plot, and their end was rushed. In fact, I felt that Bella Heathcote's character really wasn't that important at all. Her moving in with the Collins-Stoddards was washed away immediately by other plot points, and her story went nowhere until the very end.
Overall, ebsides the lacking story, I thought the acting itself was well done for what it was. Pfeiffer was fantastic as Elizabeth and it was nice to see Chloe Moretz in another type of film (as all I see when I look at her is Hit Girl). Gulliver McGrath was charming as little David. Collinwood Manor itself was beautiful, as were the surrounding areas shown in the film. I felt it to be a perfect setting for a Tim Burton movie.
While I wouldn't say this is a blockbuster film, it is a good watch, especially if you are a Depp fan.