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  • Writer's pictureMartyn Wakefield


Dir. Tim Burton

Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield

Another Tim Burton film can only mean two things, it stars Johnny Depp and it’s an adaptation. On both counts, DARK SHADOWS is exactly what it says on the tin, dark, family orientated fun and for the first time since SLEEPY HOLLOW, Burton has made a film with his stamp all over it. No Beetlejuice, No Jack, but this is a dark charismatic tale, it is once again the monster that is the lovable rogue that steels the show, and once again, that monster is Johnny Depp.

DARK SHADOWS is based on the gothic TV series from the late 60's that we hold our hands up to never watching but having seen this, we find it hard to believe that this is nothing more than a re-imagining and unfaithful adaptation. We may be wrong but either way, to us, this is original.

The Collins family created the town of Collinswood, creating and thriving from the fishing business in the towns harbour but when young Barnabus (Depp) crosses the wrong mistress. His family, wife and business all go underground, along with Barnabus, cursed to be a vampire and suffer indefinitely as a Vampire.

Fast forward 200 years and what is left of the Collins family reside in the old mansion broken and trodden by the curse handed down. Awakened by a “yellow dragon” aka a digger, a bloodthirsty Barnabus is unleashed from his coffin and begins to settle into 1970’s life, sworn to avenge his wife and rid his family of the curse passed down to them by the witch Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). Queue some make-up sex, some sharp tongues and Alice Cooper.

What Dark Shadows lacks in gallons of blood, it makes up in charm. Depp is superb as the sharp witted, centuries old hero who has some learning to do when it comes to modern (?) society. The Collins family led by Elizabeth (the never aging, always beautiful Michelle Pfeiffer) and Johnny Lee Miller as the unfaithful husband hold host to teenage brat Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz) and young delinquent David (Gulliver McGrath) who bond rather well for a dysfunctional family. Added into that family drunk/ psychiatrist Dr Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), labourer Willie (Jackie Earle Haley) and local babysitter Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote) who shares more than a resembleance to Barnabus’ deceased wife Josette.

And that’s where Shadows falls a little short, for a man/vampire so drawn into the attraction of his wife’s doppelganger, the story and chemistry is overshadowed by the rest of the story and the passion that still resides with him and Angelique. Surely with sex that passionate is more than just lust.

This will not be the most talked about film of 2012, but it will be remembered over the years as quite possible the kick up Tim Burton’s arse that he’s needed for a few years and we can be the first to say that Burton’s Back! (ed - or maybe not on reflection in 2021)

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