I went to see Dark Shadows this weekend. With one reservation (I’ll get to that later), I enjoyed it. If you appreciate a twisty sense of humor, have a healthy ability to suspend disbelief, love Tim Burton or Johnny Depp, you will probably like this movie.
My older daughter is a rabid Tim Burton fan (which is the reason I was dragged to the theater on an opening weekend to see a film I was only mildly interested in). She ferrets out little whisps of rumor on the internet and obsesses for months until his next new film is released. Needless to say, she counted down the time until we saw Dark Shadows. As expected, she loved it.
How to describe the latest Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collaboration? Well, here’s my attempt:
It has the “boy loves girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back (sort of)” story line and also the “aristocrat spurns servant lover who turns him into a vampire and takes slow, financial revenge on his descendants” as well as the one about the “long-lost relative returns and rebuilds the family fortune.”
Each character of the ensemble has his/her backstory and agenda which causes problems for everyone else.
Throw in over-the-top acting (Johnny Depp’s mannerisms are hysterical), the most bizarre revenge-sex scene (without nudity) ever captured on film, an iconic appearance of a famous aging rocker, and plop it down into the asthetically appalling 1970s.
In other words, you have a friggin’ soap opera.
It’s amazing the number of film critics who don’t get that.
Now, we come to the reservation part.
This recycling of old movies or tv shows that Hollywood insists on churning out lately pisses me off. Don’t Hollywood execs understand this alienates the original fans and a large segment of everyone else is simply lost?
I must confess I watched only a couple episodes of the original Dark Shadows as a teenager and it didn’t appeal to me. But I can imagine the original fans might be upset by the radical changes made to their beloved story. I’ve got to say, though, that in anyone else’s hands, Dark Shadows could have become another Dukes of Hazzard or Starsky and Hutch.
I love Tim Burton’s creativity. His style is distinctive. It’s fun, colorful, clever and a bit warped. Oh, ok, maybe a lot warped.
However, I do miss his more original movies like A Nightmare Before Christmas and Beetlejuice.
No, Dark Shadows isn’t for everyone. But if you need a light-hearted laugh and don’t mind a little campy, soapy fun, there are worse ways to spend a couple hours.