The summer blockbuster season is all about expectation. Box office grosses aside, films that open in the summer, after months of heavy promotion, are typically considered good when they meet or exceed the expectations set by marketing. The expectation for Dark Shadows is that director Tim Burton will make another odd film and Johnny Depp will provide a dark, eccentric, but brilliant performance. I am very unsurprised to report that Dark Shadows is very much in line with expectations and previous collaborations between Burton and Depp.
Dark Shadows is a reimagining of a television show by the same name that aired in the late 60s. The story follows Barnabas Collins, played by Johnny Depp, a wealthy fishing merchant who discovers to his cost that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, especially when that woman happens to be a witch. The witch in question Angelique Bouchard, played wonderfully by Eva Green, turns Barnabas into a vampire and leaves him imprisoned for 200 years. I'm the first to admit that I love watching Johnny Depp's performances. He truly is one of the great actors of our time. That being said, Eva Green really steals the spotlight and leaves Depp in the shadows, the Dark Shadows even. (See what I did there?)
The fish out of water story is by the far the most amusing and interesting subplot in this film. I don't think that the fish out of water bit could support an entire film, but I would have appreciated more attention to that area. In reference to marketing and expectations, Dark Shadows has been portrayed as an off-beat comedy with an eccentric cast that struggles with both normal problems and the oddity of having a distant relative who happens to be a vampire living in their home. Dark Shadows hits the occasional comedy beat, but is more concerned with being oddly dark than it is with being entertaining.
In truth, I’m not sure what Dark Shadows intended to be. I think there were too many subplots that distracted from the main narrative. This type of story is much more suited to television where there is the time to explore different oddities and have a meandering plot. In short, if you enjoy Tim Burton’s very distinct style or enjoy Johnny Depp portraying yet another off-the-wall character then Dark Shadows might be for you.
Did you see Dark Shadows? Anyone think it was the correct type of odd?