Quick Cuts: "Dark Shadows" Movie Review by Ben Foutch

Director: Tim Burton
Writers: Seth Grahame-Smith, John August
Stars: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer and Eva Green
Rated: PG-13
Run Time: 113 min

I've never seen the TV source to which Tim Burton derives this ham-fisted, gothic love letter from, so I have no comparison in whether this offering is a justifiable adaption. However, what I can say is that this version of Dark Shadows is a dreadful experience. Painfully dull, this poor attempt at a comedic horror romance could very well be the worst film in Burton's downward spiral of a career.

In the 1700's Barnabas Collins (Depp) made the poor choice of defying the love of the gorgeous witch, Angelique Bouchard (Green). In turn, she kills his parents, charms his other lover into throwing herself off of a cliff, curses his family and turns him into a vampire. She also incites the local villagers to chain and bury him. Flash forward to 1972, Barnabas becomes free from his shackles and must learn to cope with the new time period while getting to know his rather odd descendants.

What completely kills this movie is the reliance on Barnabas' undead/out-of-time behavior to fill most of the comedy void. Add the dysfunctional family to the mix and you have a poor, less inspired, immensely boring, tamed-down version of the Addams Family, but with less interesting characters and without the increased level of morbidity. I don't know, maybe this would be funny if it were a first film experience, without having any other level of quality to compare it to.

The bad definitely outweighs the good in Dark Shadows, the later of which amounts to the usually impressive art design expected with Burton. This definitely made an otherwise dreary film feel full of color and with just the right amount of style. However, much like the latter portion of Burton's career, this is definitely style over substance, with nothing to sink your teeth into. It barely works as a guilty pleasure and there would have to be some sort of entertainment value for that, which this doesn't have.


  1. Thanks for the review, Ben. I rented Dark Shadows online shortly before leaving my office at DISH on Friday afternoon and it was ready to watch on my Hopper DVR the moment I walked in my door. While I haven’t liked a Depp/Burton movie in years, their earlier works are among some of my favorite films. I rented Dark Shadows in the hopes that they might make a return to that earlier level of production. Sadly, all I got was a movie full of plot holes that looks like everything done by Burton and Depp over the past 10 years. I hope they take a break from each other before they do irreparable damage to their careers.


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