Movie Review: Dark Shadows
[media-credit name="Courtesy of Creative Commons" align="alignleft" width="300"][/media-credit]Question: Have you ever been addicted to watching a soap opera? Oh come on now, just admit it, most of us have…okay, maybe not everyone; but I do know a lot of you out there who have scheduled your college courses around The Young and the Restless, raced home to catch the last 15 minutes of Santa Barbara and nearly everyone on the planet (well, close enough) has heard of Luke & Laura. So, when I saw that Tim Burton was making a film version of the late 60′s soap opera, Dark Shadows, I kind of thought I would take a gander because I might have done one of those things above and/or heard of all those aforementioned TV programs. Alright, alright I liked soap operas when I was younger! There, I admit it. Now let’s move on…ha-ha.
Although I never saw the original television series (I was a bit on the young side or not even born yet), I had heard of it and thought, “WOW, a soap opera about a vampire; how radical for its time.” Seriously, I know we have vampire soap operas out the ying-yang today (Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, True Blood, etc…) but 45 years ago this was a novel concept.
Now before I go on I must confess I am a bit of a vampire junkie. Started two decades ago with an Anne Rice novel that was eventually turned into a film, Interview with a Vampire, and I was hooked for eternity. I read all types of vampire novels from the romance to the gory. Yes, I read them all including the ones above – Don’t judge me!
With all that said, I am no longer a soap opera nut but I am and will always be a vampire fanatic. Then you add in Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, two people whose films I have thoroughly enjoyed over the last two decades. So I was totally expecting to like this film even if it was not the greatest. You all should know by now that my love of film makes me a tad biased from time to time. That’s part of what makes me a fan and hard to be a critic sometimes. Be it a favorite actor, a genre or unique story I have a tendency to lean more towards a favorable review. Heck, film is art and art is subjective, and I don’t usually go for what’s wrong in a film, quite the opposite. Plus, I really, really don’t like to bash films. There are enough critics who do that. However, Dark Shadows fell very short of my expectations. In fact, I could go far as to say, *cue overly-dramatic music as I turn away from your judgmental stare* I was actually bored. *My head hangs low in shame as the music crescendos*.
There was an attempt at some very bizarre humor, which I would expect from these particular filmmakers. It was pure CAMP and adding in the concept of a vampire soap opera theme it should have been funnier. I mean really! It’s a hysterical and an absurd concept and the filmmakers realized that, luckily. There are lots of digs and jabs at poking fun of the genre and at the era the story took place in – the early 1970’s. But other than that, all-in-all, the bulk of the story was just ho-hum.
Most of the characters were hardly developed so I never ended up caring or sympathizing with any of them. None of them intrigued me, especially Barnabas Collins, the vampire played by Johnny Depp. Plus, the entire theme of ‘blood is thicker than water’ - or family is the most important thing fell short of reaching a powerful affirmation, I believe.
Dark Shadows attempted to tell a story about a dysfunctional family with a two hundred year-old vampire family member who suddenly arrives back home to make sure his family is once again prominent and wealthy. Seems rather self-indulgent, but then again, perhaps that was the point. Soap operas do over-dramatize each situation and exploit certain human (even undead immortals) behaviors that may not be their finest. And as an audience member you may think to yourself, “My life is so much better than theirs. My family is better than that! I would never lie, cheat, steal, commit adultery, drink blood from the hippies who taught me about peace and love…and so on.”
Now the one thing that is essential in all soap operas is to have a major cliffhanger at the end. And this particular film wanted to end it with….*cue music*.
My favorite thing: Ummm…don’t really have one of this film. Maybe all the 70′s references were fun.
My least favorite thing: That Bella Heathcote looked exactly like Heather Graham. Why that bothered me, I don’t know but it was just distracting. However, I did look the actress up and found out she just came from an Australian soap opera called Neighbours; and I found that funny and so what this film was trying to do.
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy
Length: 113 minutes
Review: 4 out of 10
Tags: 1970's, Alice Cooper, Barnabas Collins, campy, Cliffhanger, comedy, Eva Green, fantasy, Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp, Michele Pfeiffer, Neighbours, overly-dramatic, PG-13, Soap Operas, Tim Burton, Vampires, Warner Bros. Pictures