Dark Shadows (2012)

dark shadows poster 2012 movie
3.0 Overall Score
Story: 2/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 7/10

Great property with potential

Never develops and completely falls apart in the end

Movie Info

Movie Name: Dark Shadows

Studio:  Warner Bros./Village Road Show Pictures/Infinitum Nihil/GK Films/The Zanuck Company

Genre(s): Horror/Comedy/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  May 9, 2012 (France)/May 11, 2012 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

dark shadows barnabas collins mcdonalds

Welcome to the 1970s, Barnabas

The Collins family has been cursed for centuries following Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) being turned into a vampire by his scorned lover Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green).  Now, Barnabas has resurfaced in 1972, and finds that the town of Collinsport and Collinswood Manor is different than when he left it…but Angelique is still a problem.  With a new governess named Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcoate) that resembles his old love, Barnabas questions if he’s got a second chance at “life”.  Barnabas must get his family back in shape and reclaim the Collins name, and it will mean a showdown with Angelique.  Collinswood Manor however holds more secrets than just a vampire.

Directed by Tim Burton, Dark Shadows is a horror comedy fantasy.  Following Burton’s Alice in Wonderland in 2010, the film is an adaptation of the cult Dark Shadows TV soap-opera which ran from 1971-1973 on ABC.  It was released to negative reviews.

dark shadows barnabas collins angelique sex eva green johnny depp

The chemistry is dead between them…ok they’re both dead, but it could have been better

Dark Shadows was always a kind of intriguing prospect.  Growing up we had ViewMasters of Dark Shadows and a few Dark Shadows comic books so it was on my radar from an early age despite being born after it finished.  The series was relaunched in 1991 as a nighttime drama and I watched it through its cancellation.  When SyFy began running the original series in the 1990s, I’d occasionally watch it.  Tim Burton and Dark Shadows feel like a good mix, but Burton’s recent disappointments had me going into the movie very wary.

My fears were apt.  Dark Shadows is a mess.  The film attempts to walk the Burton tightrope of comedy-horror, but fails immensely.  The story has the goofy A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court type storyline with Barnabas, a really dull and mismatched love story with both Depp and Green and Depp and Heathcoate, a supporting cast that gets to do nothing, and an ending that burns whatever ground it gained in the film.  It is extremely disappointing and you are just happy it ends.

dark shadows original cast jonathan frid johnny depp barnabas collins

Well at least the old cast got to swing by to see their show stomped on

It wastes a great cast.  While the cast is ok in their roles, they have nothing to work with.  Depp is Depp and brings nothing new to the role (he could have just been playing Willie Wonka again from how it seems).  Eva Green enjoys her evilness, but the character isn’t dynamic, and Bella Heathcote does prove to show potential.  Jonny Lee Miller’s character is a complete write off and Helena Bonham Carter is worthless.  Both Chloë Grace Moretz and Gulliver McGrath could have been ok as the kids but have no storyline.  Jackie Earle Haley and Michelle Pfeiffer have bigger roles, but both are pretty cardboard.  The movie has a cameo by Christopher  Lee and a performance by Alice Cooper.  Original cast members Jonathan Frid, Lara Parker, Kathryn Leigh Scott, and David Selby appear at the party (Frid died soon appear his appearance).

dark shadows chloe grace mortez werewolf

Oh…she’s a werewolf…clever…not really

The movie has the Tim Burton style.  It would have maybe worked with a better script, and it does play with commercialism and modernism which isn’t uncommon in his pictures.  Unfortunately in some ways, Tim Burton has almost become a parody of himself, and Dark Shadows feels like someone mimicking Burton’s look and style.

Dark Shadows can be skipped.  It isn’t good, but if you are a completionist and want to see all of Burton’s movies, it is a necessity.  The movie leaves some open threads (it is based on a soap opera so that is expected), but the reception means no Dark Shadows 2…but I’m sure Dark Shadows will rise again in some form.  Burton followed Dark Shadows with Frankenweenie also in 2012.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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