Dark Shadows

The trailer advertises a fun quirky comedy, with Tim Burton’s trade mark gothic stamps all over it. A fish-out-of-water tale and a centuries old love story. And with Burton regulars like Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, how can it be bad?

Unfortunately it is bad. For a start, this film is like Dallas, or Dynasty, meets The Addams Family. It is incredibly slow and dull in its pacing. The film is not the comedy we’ve all seen advertised, and the few comedic moments there are have all already been seen in the trailers. No one in the full cinema screening I attended laughed once.

The plot is part revenge story, part business tycoons scrambling for power story, part love story, part horror story. The melding of all these formats means the characters change too, depending on which part of the story is being polayed out at the time. For example, Depp’s Nosferatu like character, Barnabas Collins, can be a comedic guy one moment (the tiny songstress moment with the TV for example), then brutal cold blooded killer of innocents the next (in the murder of the construction workers who unearthed and freed him from his 200 year sleep only to have their throats ripped out).  The nodds to FW Murnau’s 1917 film Nosferatu are fun (for example, the way Depp rises out of his coffin), but are they really homages or just stealing from other films.

You can never really like any of the central characters. Michelle Pfeiffer is more concerned about elevating her family’s social status, than their safety at the hands of the family vampire. There is little feeling from the family for the son who communes with his dead mother and is receiving psychiatric help from an eccentric live-in doctor (Helena Bonham Carter). Johnny Lee Miller is more concerned with his next lay and stealing from his own family than any of his family’s wellfare or emotional states. Chloe Grace Moretz is an annoying stroppy teen who is “going through some changes”. Given that this is a ‘cooky’ Tim Burton film, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what those changes are, and when you do see her , it doesn’t really shock or scare.

There are some creepy moments in it. The ghost’s first appearance to her descendant brought to mind scenes from The Orphanage with the little boy in the cloth mask (where you don’t want to know what’s underneath the mask). The odd scene like this, and the very well realised setting, save this film from being a complete waste of budget.

The final act mayhem also seems wrong, as Eva Green’s witch goes off the reservation big time. Family portraits bleed, statues come to life, and Eva Green hams it up as a spurned bunny boiler. It appears to be nothing more than a flimsy way to try and end the film, and other ‘reveals’ just before the credits roll were so obviously fore-shadowed early on that they were expected.

This is a film that is incredibly dull, incredibly long, and very muddled. If you must see it, wait for the DVD release so you haven’t spent the extortionate amount a cinema visit can set you back these days. Personally, even if it was on TV, I’d avoid it unless I was suffering insomnia and needed a cure. In short, both Addams Family films had more going for them than this waste of celluloid.