Based on a 1960’s gothic horror soap opera, it is little wonder that Burton’s latest creation, Dark Shadows lived up to the expectation of being weird.
Weird it certainly is, without a doubt. Yet, I expected nothing less from Burton. I must say, when I first saw the trailer I had my doubts. The film looked a bit too comedic for Burton’s usual style (not that his previous films aren’t funny, but the focus is usually less on the funny and more on the creepy).
I was pleasantly surprised however. Featuring a fantastic cast led by Johnny Depp and Eva Green, the film follows Barnabas Collins (Depp), a vampire set free after 200 years imprisonment. Returning to his old home, Barnabas sets out to restore the family business with the help of his dysfunctional descendents whilst at the same time protecting them from the crazy witch (Green) who imprisoned him in the first place for rejecting her. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”, after all.
I have already called this film weird, but it is not enough. It is simply bizarre, even more so, than Burton’s usual works! Not because it was darker or creepier but because it seemed to be as dysfunctional as it’s characters. I felt like I was watching something between a hammer horror, The Rocky Horror Picture Show (the caretaker even reminded me of Riff Raff) and a genuinely scary movie.
I put this mainly down to Depp’s character, Barnabas, who was a very changeable character. I could not decide if he was a gentleman, a terrifying monster or just a sexual deviant. Though my favour did swing towards the latter. Forgive me, for at heart being a besotted teenage girl but any fellow Depp fans will agree there is something very sexy about him playing an awkward but sexually active vampire. The success of Twilight is proof enough of this premise I suppose. Regardless of my weaknesses, it would be hard for anyone to deny that the sex scene (and I use that term loosely) between Depp and Eva Green was for lack of a better word ,hot. Quite incredible really that a combination of a serpentine witch, a vampire and Barry White could produce that result.
After mentioning Twilight, I must stress how great it was to watch something with a good old fashioned vampire. The sunlight burnt him, he had no reflection, he slept in a coffin; all the classics were there. What once I may perhaps have found cliché was surprisingly refreshing after the sparkly loved up vampires that surround us these days. Visually and stylistically too, the film was classically gothic and as a result wonderful to behold.
I feel kudos should be given as well to a superb soundtrack that was for once not completely dominated by Danny Elfman. Though I love his music, it made a nice change. The guest appearance of Alice Cooper was incredible too and fit so perfectly with the style of the film.
In terms of performances…every time I review a Johnny Depp film it feels unnecessary to applaud his acting, which never fails to impress. Perhaps as a rule, I will only mention his performance if god forbid, by some cruel twist of fate, it is amiss. Otherwise, I think it’s a given that he was fantastic. Forgive me if this seems lazy but to me it seems logical. In fact I may apply this rule to a few actors because quite frankly, some deserve it.
The other performances are also worthy of mention, commendations to Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter and Chloe Moretz to name just a few (as a side note, I hope everyone appreciates the fact that Helena Bonham Carter plays a psychiatrist as much as I did)! Christopher Lee even makes a fleeting but of course, brilliant appearance, seeming to naturally belong as usual, in Burton’s peculiar world.
Overall the film was interesting and generally entertaining. However, it was a little all over the place as I’ve said. I also felt there was something lacking in the plot and some of the characters seemed unfulfilled.
Regardless of being a little unsatisfied in this respect though, as a Burton and Depp fan, I thoroughly enjoyed the film. If you too are a fan of this particular dynamic duo, I strongly recommend you give Dark Shadows a watch.