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Dark Shadows (2012)

Strange Is Relative

Rating: 5/10

Running Time: 113 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12A

Tim Burton making a movie with a gothic feel starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter? That kind of flight of fancy surely isn’t possible? Next you’ll be telling me that there’s a movie where Thor fights alongside Iron Man.

Well, yeah, it happened and it’s called Dark Shadows – a big screen adaptation of a popular 1970s TV series (which never made it to the shores of the UK but can be roughly equated to The Munsters). Johnny Depp plays Barnabas who, in 1752, is a rich playboy with the world at his feet living in a decadent mansion in the American town of Collinsport. Unfortunately, his latest conquest (Green) happens to be a witch and, after messing with her heart, she turns him into a vampire and buries him underground in a coffin. Fast-forward to 1972 and Barnabas is inadvertantly released and returns to a now ailing mansion and family business filled with his disfunctional descendants.

As an idea and an entity as a whole, Dark Shadows is not that bad and it’s certainly an easy, fairly entertaining watch. It’s basically a pleasant time-filler that would be okay to rent but would make you feel hard done by if you actually left your house, got a bus to the cinema, paid an exhorbitant entrance fee and then sat next to a overly-loud idiot who laughs at everything. The main flaw is that it’s quite poorly written as much of the plot is just random sketches with very limited connection and the whole thing feels very disconnected and cobbled together  The humour is pretty hit and miss – when it hits it forces a chuckle and when it more frequently fails it requires a lot of effort to stifle a groan – not really a balanced payoff.

It does look good though with a nice feel – both the gothic, oldy-worldy scenes and the Seventies – and there are a few good performances with Depp being pretty stable as the lead and Eva Green nicely over-the-top as the scorned witch.

It's Got: Hit and miss humour, nice style and set design, a couple of stable performances

It Needs: More genuinely funny moments, a plot that fits together and gives a feeling of continuity


A dark tale with a couple of chuckes makes this more of the same from Tim Burton – master of the Gothic and of Helena Bonham Carter. Poorly put together and not all that funny, Dark Shadows in nonetheless an easy, fairly entertaining watch.