A fun, if forgettable vampire movie, starring Johnny Depp, Eva Green and Michelle Pfeiffer
Like a kid who turns up late to a Halloween party, Tim Burton arrives with his latest, vampire movie Dark Shadows. After Twilight, 30 Days of Night and Let The Right One In, not to mention TV’s True Blood…aren’t fangs, dusty coffins and dissolving in sunlight, like, so last year? Well, when there’s a cash-cow to be milked, apparently not.
Rebooting the popular 1960s supernatural soap that ran for over 1200 episodes, the film focuses on the show’s key character, the 18th Century-born Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp, in his eighth Burton outing), a cursed vampire who escapes his coffin prison after almost 200 years to arrive in Maine, 1972, where he finds family pile and descendants, led by matriarch Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer), in disarray.
Smartly scripted by Seth Grahame-Smith, Burton makes the 70s work for the film. Plastic pet trolls, an Alice Cooper cameo and an iconic soundtrack (Knights In White Satin, 'Superfly') all add to the surreal humour, particularly when contrasted with Barnabas’ anachronistic phrases ('succubus' anyone?), which Depp delights in getting his tongue around.
Against this, Burton keeps the original show’s soapy element. Think Dynasty meets The Addams Family, as Barnabas yearns after the family nanny (Bella Heathcote) while being pursued by the vixen-like Angelique (Eva Green), the witch who first cursed him and has ever since pursued a vendetta against the Collins clan.
Ensuring the SFX never swamps the scenes, Burton never quite conveys this restraint to all his actors. Chloë Moretz, as Elizabeth’s daughter, overdoes the sulky teen act, while an inane Eva Green is all over the place. Still, Burton’s other half, Helena Bonham Carter, is a hoot as the family’s boozy shrink. In truth, it’s fun but forgettable – and it may just suck the life out of the vampire movie for a while.
On general release from Fri 11 May.