Dark Shadows (2012) – Movie Review

Dark Shadows is a comedy fantasy film based on the popular 1966–1971 gothic soap opera of the same name.

SPOILER WARNING: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Johnny Depp in "Dark Shadows"
Johnny Depp in "Dark Shadows"

Joshua Collins (Ivan Kaye) and Naomi Collins (Susanna Cappellaro) sail from Liverpool, England to North America in 1972 to start a fishing business in Collinsport, Maine. Their son, Barnabas (Johnny Depp) is a playboy and the master of Collinwood Manor.

When Barnabas breaks the heart of a witch, Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), the witch then uses witchery to kill his parents and curses his family including his lovers. Josette (Bella Heathcote) is Barnabas’ last lover and she leaps to her death from a nearby cliff. Angelique then curses Barnabas to turn into a vampire before burying him alive in a chained-coffin.

200 year later, Barnabas is freed from his coffin by a group of construction workers, who then sucks their blood and killing them. Barnabas makes his way back to Collinwood Manor only to find the mansion in total ruin. The manor is occupied by Barnabas’ dysfunctional descendants led by the Collins family matriarch, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer). Elizabeth has a rebellious daughter Carolyn Stoddard (Chloë Moretz) who likes to touch herself. David Collins (Gulliver McGrath) is Elizabeth’s 10-year-old nephew who claims he sees the ghost of Josette occasionally though no one believes him. That’s when Elizabeth hires Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), a psychiatrist to treat David.

Barnabas tries to rebuild the family fishing business when he learns the town is no longer under their control.

When Angelique discovers Barnabas’ escape, she plots to continue her avenging whilst tries to win him back. In the process, Angelique seduces Barnabas and they end up wrecking Angelique’s entire office in a tryst. After Barnabas tells Angelique he never loves her, Angelique once again locks up Barnabas in a coffin. She then creates a little accident in Collins factory to cause a fire which eventually burns down their fishing business.

In a fight between the witch Angelique and the Collins, we discovers Angelique has summoned a werewolf to turn Carolyn into a werewolf. But, the fight eventually ends when Josette’s ghost unleashes a powerful shriek which gives a huge blow to Angelique as she cracks like how a glass cracks.

Overall, Dark Shadows is gothic, entertaining and fun but that’s about it. Tim Burton’s idea to turn the classic soap opera into a comedy has its limit. Although the main cast excel in their acting, the storyline is somehow too weak and at times, characters like Helena Bonham Carter’s Dr. Julia Hoffman doesn’t fit into the film nor is necessary. Perhaps, this is one of the remakes that should be left in the dark shadows.

  • 6 out of 10
  • No doubt it’s fun and entertaining but even if you’re a fan of Tim Burton, you’ll still be disappointed at this flick
  • Not exactly mid-credits scene, but before the ending, Dr. Julia Hoffman is shown awaken as a vampire.

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