Review – Dark Shadows

Soft drink companies are always trying to replicate the taste of their unhealthy tooth destroying drinks into a diet version. When first tasting the low sugar full flavour option in an attempt to avoid the onset of diabetes, you’re amazed at how similar it tastes. The more you swill, the more immune your taste buds become to the fake sugars and the gimmick is lost.

Tim Burton was once that filmmaker who offered something different in the junk pit of mainstream Hollywood with films including ‘Batman’, ‘Beetlejuice’ and ‘Edward Scissorhands’. After years of showing off the same gothic twisted trees in every film, the shine of this quirky filmmaker has worn off and the corpse of Burton’s career lands with a thud in ‘Dark Shadows’.

Set in the year 1752, Baranbus Collins (Johnny Depp) is a wealthy playboy who is cursed to be a vampire by a witch (Eva Green) after breaking her heart. Collins is hunted and buried alive by the locals only to return in the 1970s to find his distant relatives and family business in ruins.

Depp does a good job bringing the kooky to his character and tries hard to make the material work. Despite Depp’s effort, he’s doing nothing but take a bullet for his mate Burton on their eighth film together to elevate the shoddy script.

‘Dark Shadows’ has no plot and the film rides on one big long gag about how wacky the 70s were. Hippies, fast food restaurants, fashion and Alice Cooper are all bled for laughs, but it all becomes stale quickly. It’s the same ‘man out of time’ plot copied from the first ‘Austin Powers’ film.

There are dull romantic sub-plots, strange supernatural twists and a sexually active business savvy vampire. It’s a million dollar soap opera and screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith wrote the turd, and Burton rolled it in glitter.

It’s easy to stick the boot into Burton but it’s because he has shown greatness in the past. His inability to diversify and deliver something different defies all his earlier work and his talent is slowly becoming a myth. Imagine Burton doing straight horror, a thriller or a modern noir style cop drama – just no more twisted trees please.

‘Dark Shadows’ casts a huge shadow over the career of Burton; we’ve sipped at his oddball gothic chalice for too long and it has left a bad taste.


‘Dark Shadows’ is released:

10 May 2012 Australia

11 May 2012 UK and US

The Popcorn Junkie