I will not surprise anyone who knows me with this information, but I am done with the union of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. Like any relationship, one person is dragging down the other. I’m not sure who I should blame. Before this movie I would have set my anger solely on Depp for his neverending role of Captain Jack Sparrow. Because, honestly, he plays a variation of that role in every movie he is in. I think these two men are just victims of hitting their creative peak in the 90’s. Depp was a first-class character actor and Burton was the whimsical dark horse of Hollywood directors.
I think it’s high time they get a divorce.
With Dark Shadows, they mark their 8th collaboration. It feels like the 80th. Depp plays Barnabas Collins a vampire locked away by a spiteful witch, played by Eva Green. He awakens nearly 200 years later in 1972 to reclaim his estate and get revenge on the witch who caused the death of his betrothed. His descendants still reside in the mansion and are near the point of poverty. Basically the entire rest of the movie relies on Depp being the fish out of water and showing every 70’s kitschy stereotype. The expanse of lava lamps, treasure trolls, and hippies wears a little thin.
I can see why Burton would want to adapt the 1970’s supernatural daytime soap. The original show was a precursor to True Blood before there was one, obviously without the vampire nudity. But Dark Shadows had crazy plots involving witches, ghosts, and voodoo. But even with the dark foundation and old school fan base, Burton still can’t capitalize on keeping a macabre vibe.
Everything in this movie feels forced. Tim Burton knows that he was once known for being a dark auteur, but it seems he is just trying to film this movie like he would have ten years ago. It’s just too late Tim. Your talents have dried up. Also, this movie is being billed as a comedy but I didn’t laugh one time. Not once. Another gripe I have is with Danny Elfman. He was also talented ten years ago, ending his accolades with the soundtrack for Spider-Man. His soundtrack for Dark Shadows just ends up being background music that sounds like a low budget haunted house CD played at low volume. It’s a major drop from the man who scored Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
The biggest flaw of the movie is the overuse of its main star. He is on screen for 97% of the movie, and that is a crime because so many of the secondary cast are wasted. Why did they even bother signing on Chloe Moretz, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jackie Earle Haley, and Johnny Lee Miller when they were barely used. I’m sure that in Burton’s perfect world every character would be played by Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.
Let’s just all agree that Dark Shadows is Burton’s worst movie yet. Yes, even worse than Planet of the Apes. Yeah I think I just crossed a line. Dark Shadows is a Must Miss!
P.S. Tim Burton hasn’t been a total failure in the past ten years. Sweeney Todd and Big Fish were pretty great.