Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Helena Bonham Carter
It is the late 1700s and the Collins family from Liverpool has moved to a town in Maine to start a seafood canning business. They become widely successful and the town is named Collinsport after them. They build a massive mansion and call it Collinswood Manor. Barnabas Collins (Depp) is the young playboy of the family. One of the manor’s maids is Angelique (Green) who dabbles in the dark arts of witchcraft. She has her eyes and heart set on Barnabas. Barnabas’ love is for Josette DuPres (Bella Heathcote). In a jealous rage, Angelique casts numerous spells against the people in Barnabas’ life. A gargoyle falls on top of his parents head as they are walking around the manor. Josette walks to the edge of a cliff and falls to her death. Barnabas tries to rescue her, but it is too late. He jumps over the cliff in order to die and be with her. Before he dies, Angelique casts a spell on him and turns him into a vampire in order to live a life of despair, hurt, and anger. Angelique’s plan is not quite finished. She turns the town of Collinsport on him and brands him a monster. The townspeople come after him and bury him alive in a chained coffin.
Time passes and we pick up with the Collins family in 1972. Various family members including Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Pfeiffer), her brother Roger (Johnny Lee Miller), the family doctor Dr. Julia Hoffman (Carter), and some children currently all reside in Collinswood Manor. The manor is run down and not being taken care of by the supposed caretaker (Jackie Earl Haley). The family business is crumbling and a rival canning company is gaining momentum. The rival canning company is Angel Bay which is run by the infamous Angelique who is still alive hundreds of years later. Late one night a construction company is digging deep in the ground and uncovers the coffin of Barnabas Collins. It shakes open and a hungry Barnabas is unleashed. He instantly kills the nine construction workers and makes his way back to Collinswood Manor. The family seems skeptical about whom this stranger is, but he quickly makes Elizabeth a believer that he is THE Barnabas Collins. Angelique soon realizes that Barnabas is back and relishes on this fact. Barnabas is determined to get Collinsport and the family business back to the same reputation it once had. Angelique has other plans. Tension grows even further when she realizes Barnabas has his eyes on the Collins' new governess who has a striking resemblance to Josette.
The latest Tim Burton and Johnny Depp collaboration is another adaptation from a previous work. This time it's based off a campy TV show from 1966. Maybe they should stick to original material instead of re-imaginings. The screenplay is by Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter scribe Seth Grahame-Smith. One of the biggest downfalls to the movie is that the writing is very bland and boring. The story is fairly thin and doesn't always know where to go to keep the movie going for the 113 minute run time. I know the movie is based on a campy show, so I’m not expecting there to be twists and turns or some deep message hidden inside. There is not enough wit or laughter to bring out the camp to match the tone of the original TV show. There are a few gem lines, but not enough to relish in and make the characters interesting. The actors do a decent job given their source material, but no one is really able to take the extra step. None of these characters will go down as the actor’s best or most memorable. Burton does have some good things going for the movie. The whole production design, like any other Burton film, is breathtaking. Colleen Atwood has designed many of Burton’s films to exquisite detail and this is no exception. She has designed beautiful costumes fitting the 1760s as well as the 1970s. The art direction and set design of the Collinswood mansion is a feast for the eyes with the large gothic feel. Dark Shadows will not go down as one of Burton’s best. That seems to be his trend lately which is unfortunate. The movie is beautiful to look at but there is no substance inside.
RATING: ** (2 out of 5 stars)