Dark Shadows

The vampire Barnabas Collins returns to his family home to protect his decadent descendants, adapting to the modern world (of 1972) as he plots to return his family to their rightful place in society and to thwart the woman who cursed him.


“What the hell is this?”

Tim Burton’s comic adaptation of the long running US soap opera Dark Shadows is a self-indulgent exploration of Burton’s genius.  A largely unfamiliar product in the UK, Dark Shadows has to be taken on its own merit.

There’s certainly an element of soap permeating the film.  Everything is overacted and the script is ripe.  For modern audiences, this parody isn’t necessary the soap opera writing that will ring true.

The cast a curious collection of talent – Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jonny Lee Miller and Eva Green form the lead cast.  They’re all incredibly talented actors turning in scene chewing performances.

Seth Grahame-Smith’s script feels suitably outdated, blending soap and horror without really mastering either.  With Tim Burton in the director’s chair, the film is dripping in the Gothic, it looks better than it sounds thanks to Burton’s vision.

Much of the humour is found in Collins adapting to the modern world, but it does feel strained more often than it feels funny.

Perhaps it hit the right notes for fans of the TV series.