It is hard to deny that Dark Shadows sits somewhere between the genres of Gothic comedy and melodrama; but given it’s a Tim Burton film this is really not much of a surprise. The tone swings are not always that convincing as they seem a bit awkward at times, but the film overall is still a great bunch of fun even if it never really gets going anywhere real.
In short, it’s the perfect film for Johnny Depp and Tim Burton as it’s something that you can watch for a few hours completely entertained, feeling little more than just simply pleased with the result. The quirky film is based on a supernatural soap opera called Dark Shadows that was originally set during the sixties. Today, the film opens with a brief narration that sets it up, telling the audience that Barnabas Collins left England with his family for the New World where they happened to build a fishing empire.
Everything was going just fine until Barnabas turns down the advances of Angelique the serving girl who just so happens to be a witch, and she gets back at him by turning him into a vampire. Of course, in the 1700s people were not quite so accepting of a vampire and Barnabas was shackled and placed into a coffin underground.
Two centuries later, in 1972, the coffin is unearthed and Barnabas is once again free, but during this time the Collins family has turned into a group of misfits that stay holed up in their neglected mansion with some very dysfunctional servants to boot. Despite their oddities, and who is Barnabas to talk really, he sets out to reverse the fortunes of the Collins family and return them to the glory of the old days. Of course, Angelique pops back up and has her own agenda.
Burton has always been great at creating alternative fantasy worlds, and it is no different in this film as he intricately creates a dark world that is still welcoming to those on the other side. His sense of sarcastic creation also shines through as the dark Collinwood Manor is still infused with some of the hippie movement which can be seen in the Farrah Fawcett hair and the high collars.
Overall, the scenery and dress of the time is just perfect and Dark Shadows truly does fit in perfectly with the time period it is supposed to portray. The only problem is that Dark Shadows sometimes jumps between its genres a bit oddly and it all starts in the last half an hour of the film when Barnabas starts to become the sexual magnet of the mansion with all of the women after him.
Eva Green who plays Angelique is widely responsible for this, but while she is fun to watch it’s all a bit too predictable. It’s a shame that everything becomes a mess at the end because really the journey to get up to the climax is a great deal of fun