MAX ZEH this Dark Shadows is a Tim Burton film, but that’s it.
Directed by Tim Burton
The films of Tim Burton show a strange mix of the unique and the recycled. His latest film, Dark Shadows, an adaption of a US horror soap, is a prime example.
The film tells the story of Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp), the heir of a rich trading family from the 18th century who has been cursed by the witch Angelique (Eva Green) after rejecting her love. She killed his parents and his fiancée, and drove the business into ruins. And, as if that wasn’t enough, she turned him into a vampire and made the townsfolk bury him alive. After 200 years, Barnabas is dug out to find himself in the 1970s, confronted with his ancestors and Angelique, who controls the New England town of Collinsport (which his family built).
Leaving any gaps and questionable turns in the plot aside, of which the film has many, it is unmistakably the work of Tim Burton. The typical colour tones, meticulous production design and the beautifully filmed, or in this case more likely animated, scenery all bear his stamp. The performance by Johnny Depp is good, but basically the same as every other one he has produced in Tim Burton films. Even though all of the characters he plays are very different in theory, they all seem the same due to the offbeat awkwardness. The film has a nice creepy tone, great camera slides and the aforementioned fantastically detailed sets, but it isn’t enough. The pale colours highlighting reds is striking, but, as with much else in the film, has been seen before over and over again. Also, Helena Bonham Carter is in it. Surprise!
All in all, it seems as Tim Burton has exhausted his inspiration. It is strange how despite a great variety of stories, which his choice of projects doubtlessly displays, he manages to make the films all look and feel exactly the same, and not in a good way. Maybe he should use some new actors for a change. He has to choose whether he is interested in beautiful sets and Johnny Depp, or in inventive cinema. Fans of Burton’s style might like the film, for others it will remain a damp squib.