I like Tim Burton’s work, in general. I especially like his collaborations with Johnny Depp. I like Chloë Grace Moretz, & I like Eva Green a lot! I also like horror comedies.
So of course when I started to see the promos of Dark Shadows I knew I had to see the film. It has so many things I liked, so watching it can’t go wrong, right? Wrong.
Dark Shadows is based on the late sixties gothic soap opera of the same name.
Barnabas Collins (played by Johnny Depp) is the heir to the Collins family business & fortune in the late 18th century. He’s in a a physical relationship with Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), but does not love her. He falls in love with the innocent Josette, but Angelique, in a jealous rage puts a spell on her that makes her throw herself off a cliff. Barnabas jumps too, but Angelique has turned him into a vampire before he hits the rocks. Later she tells the townspeople about him being a vampire, & he’s chained & buried alive in the forest.
Fast forward to 1972, when Barnabas is accidentally released. He finds the manor in ruins. The Collins family still lives there, so he sets out to restore the business, manor & family in general to it’s former glory.
The film is very visually striking. Tim Burton is of course obsessed with gothic makeup. Michelle Pfeiffer plays Elizabeth Collins, the strong matriarch, Chloë Moretz is plays her constantly sullen 15 year old daughter. And no Tim Burton film would be complete without Helena Bonham Carter, who plays the alcoholic psychiatrist Dr Hoffman. One thing I really loved about the film was the soundtrack- it features a lot of great songs from the early 70s by The Carpenters, The Moody Blues, Elton John, etc. Alice Cooper makes an appearance as himself (I seem to be seeing a lot of him recently), & it was pretty entertaining- “Ugliest Woman Ever!”. The background score by Danny Elfman fits in well.
One of the main things I really hated about the film was it’s depiction of two female characters, Josette & Angelique as the Virgin & the Whore. Angelique is authoritative & sexually confident, but depicted purely as a wicked witch & a scheming vamp, who Barnabas can repeatedly sleep with but never love. Josette on the other hand is very soft spoken & virginal, so she is the positive character & the love of Barnabas’ life. This misogynistic depiction of women was especially common in Hindi cinema back in the day but to see it in a recent work by a major director is just shameful. The only worthwhile parts are the ‘fish out of water’ type jokes with Barnabas struggling to understand popular culture of the 70s, & I’m not even sure if they’re worth your ticket money.
In summation, I really really wanted to like this film, but I couldn’t. Bleh.
I’m looking forward to Men In Black III, I do hope it’s good.
Rating ★★☆ ☆ ☆ (Two Stars)


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