Dark Shadows (2012)

Dark Shadows
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: Seth Grahame-Smith
Based on: the TV show
Cast: Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham-Carter, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Bella Heathcote, Chloe Moretz, Gulliver McGrath, Christopher Lee, Alice Cooper

At the end of the 18th century, Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) and his family emigrate to America, where they build up a town and acquire a lot of wealth. With them came Angelique (Eva Green) and her family as servants. Angelique falls in love with Barnabas. But when he tells her that he doesn’t share her feelings, she gets so angry that she curses him to be a vampire, kills the woman he loves and buries him for almost 200 years.
In 1972, Barnabas is freed and returns to his family – or what remains of it. But also Angelique is still there and ready to pick things up right where they left them.

I was not one of the people bemoaning yet another Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collaboration – I usually like when they work together and the trailer for this film looked perfectly charming. But unfortunately the film was very disappointing.

When the film was over, deadra and me just looked at each other and wondered whether we were both equally bored. (The answer is yes.) Everytime it got interesting, or we finally got to know more about the most interesting characters – like Michelle Pfeiffer’s Elizabeth, the whole thing swung back to the Barnabas/Angel storyline and that just did not work.

For one thing, Barnabas was a boring character. And Angel didn’t get any depth at all. But even with that, you’d think that Johnny Depp and Eva Green are at least hot enough to sell us their sexual tension – but nada. Zilch. It is quite depressing, really.

The film was just so absolutely uneven. It has funny moments [most of them due to Chloe Moretz] and excellent moments, but there is no kind of consistency at all. And that’s not even mentioning the plotting that was all over the place.

At least the art direction was beautiful, in the usual Burton-y fashion. The costumes, the sets and everything – the movie looked great. But other than that, it’s a boring mess.

Summarising: Disappointing.


  1. Excellent points. I think you are spot on. I cannot remember the exact number of the word ‘mess’ I heard from people to describe this film. But this is exactly that. Sometimes a multitude of ideas work, but in this film, it did not. I concur with your criticisms, and adding one of mine- I was taken aback by some details. There is a scene where it is implied Dr Hoffman gives Barnabas a head. I mean this is not really funny, but just shows a bad taste. I cannot emphasis this enough (and the film is 13 rating, AND starts like a child’s film). And what about the scene where Barnabas being passionate (was it sex?) with the witch who ‘ruined’ all his family AND killed ‘the love of his life’ AND imprisoned him for nearly 200 years. Nice.

    • I didn’t really think that the film was too raunchy – in fact, they failed so hard at that that it was always when they tried to spice things up a bit that the film pretty much imploded. Like the “passionate sex scene” you mention as well that was so utterly boring…

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