by Rick Grant
Based on a 1970s TV show, this is the umpteenth collaboration between Johnny Depp and Tim Burton and clicks on most all levels. Toward the end of the film, Burton gets carried away with the CGI special effects. However, it doesn’t really drag down the overall comedic charm of the film.
Since, as a child, Depp was obsessed with the central character, Barnabas Collins, his characterization is classic Depp with the white makeup and his well educated manner. This is Burton and Depp’s mind meld–with Burton giving Depp carte blanch to be creative, and in this case, funny.
The opening prologue with narration is hokey, but establishes the tale of the Collins’ family starting a massive fishing business in Maine. Of course, one can’t help but think that Burton was channeling “Sweeney Todd” for this prologue. Nonetheless, heir apparent, Barnabas embarks on a tragic love affair with Josette (Bella Heathcote). She flings herself off a cliff, and Barnabas follows her. Splat, splat!.
Hold on–Barnabas is not dead. He’s been turned into an immortal vampire by an ancient curse. Suddenly, it’s 1972, as Barnabas walks back to the Collins’ mansion, which has fallen onto hard times. Spurned witch, Angelique (Eva Green) now is competing with the Collins for dominance in the fishing business. She turned Barnabas into a vampire and buried him in the ground for all those years.
So now, the Collins family has to get used to having a long dead vampire living amongst them. Ah, but Barnabas has a secret stash of riches, hidden basement piled high with gold and precious gems. He plans to restore the mansion and Collins name to its former glory.
His plans are thwarted at every turn by the beautiful witch, Angie a.k.a Angelique. “Oh no, it’s the season of the witch.” Poor Barnabas, it looks like he can be beaten. Not so fast–this clever vampire has some tricks emanating from his freaky fingernails.
Family matriarch Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer) accepts Barnabas as the long lost soul as she presides over the renovations. Her typically rebellious teenage daughter, Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz) and 10 year old son David (Gully McGrath) are digging the return of Barnabas. To Carolyn, he’s one stoned out dude.
Barnabas feels culture shock when he sees cars, lava lamps, troll dolls and the Golden Arches but he needs blood to survive. After the mansion remodeling is complete, the Collins clan decide to throw a “ball,” as Barnabas puts it. So, who are they gonna call for live entertainment? Alice Cooper of course. Man what a party, as Copper and his band rock out.
Depp and Burton were definitely in their groove making this film. It hits all the right marks for script excellence, high production values, and passionate acting. Depp pulls off another memorable characterization.
Dark Shadows Movie Review
by Rick Grant