Dark Shadows: Beautiful but Dull Comedy
Chloë Grace MoretzEva Green...
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Johnny Depp plays
Barnabas Collins, the owner of a very successful fishing business and namesake
of the town of Collinsport. After incurring the wrath of Angelique (Green), a
maid whose love he scorned, he discovers that she’s a witch and finds himself
on the receiving end of one of her curses. Driven crazy by unrequited love,
Angelique turns Barnabas into a vampire to make him suffer for all eternity. Locking
him in a coffin and burying it, he stays there for two centuries until some
construction workers stumble across him. Remerging in the 70s, he finds that
the family fortunes have been reversed and business is floundering. It isn’t
long before he finds out the still obsessed Angelique has taken it upon herself
to curse his entire family in retribution for his lack of love.
To get camp right,
you really have to commit which, unfortunately, isn’t exactly what this film
does. The cast is mostly adequate with the only true standouts being Eva Green
and Helena Bonham Carter as a psychologist living with the Collins. Green is
fantastically over the top and incredibly funny with her desperate love for
Barnabas. The question though is why somebody as electric as her would be
obsessed with someone as boring as him. Bonham Carter sadly has quite a small
role though to make up for it, she’s outfitted with the best wig in the film. She’s
wry and eccentric and generally a blast whenever she shows up.
Barnabas with his ye
old English accent, his Gothic clothes and pasty white makeup would be right at
home in a number of Depp’s previous collaborations with Tim Burton. Because of
this, Barnabas seems stale and familiar. That’s not to say that Depp does a bad
job, but it’s gotten to the point where he’s become one with his specific brand
of eccentric characters; they’ve become second nature to him and it drains a
lot of the novelty and excitement out of the experience.
The music is another
issue. The cuts themselves, which include some stone cold classics such as
Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Superfly’, make a pretty great mix tape but there’s
something off about their use in this film; the onscreen action doesn’t hold
its own against the music. On the other hand though, the film is visually
gorgeous. The costumes are beautiful and Collinwood, the family mansion, is
absolutely stunning whether decked out in 1700s inspired décor or combined with 70s
touches such as lava lamps, furry rugs and psychedelic concert posters.
With a cast this
stellar and Tim Burton directing, you’d be forgiven for expecting something far
more cohesive than this. The film flops about, never finding its rhythm, and is
generally a bit of a mess.