In the middle of the 1960s, the television company ABC acquired an import of a British television series entitled ‘Dark Shadows’, which ran until 1971. Now, nearly 40 years later, director Tim Burton brings the TV series to the big screen in an adaptation of “Dark Shadows”. And what’s the final result? It’s a disappointing mess. It tries too hard to call itself a comedy, yet there is a seriousness to it. Though to be fair, there are some things that do make the movie work. “Dark Shadows”, while having a few good factors about it, doesn’t try to imitate the original series and becomes something else.
The plot of the film revolves around Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) who has been cursed by a witch (Eva Green) by becoming a vampire. Barnabas returns to his home of Collinsport, Maine and finds it in ruins. Barnabas must find a way to reverse the curse that was bestowed on him and revive the family business to get it back on its roots once more.
“Dark Shadows” is somewhat of a mess. The writing tries to play the movie as a comedy, where the original TV series was a serous drama. If the movie had taken out the jokes, and added a more serious overtone, then it would have worked so much better. The cast was all right, but there were so many characters in which the movie focused on, it felt very confusing as to pay attention to who you want to see finish their story arc. This is mainly because you feel attached to these characters. Yes they’re important to the plot, but they offer no purpose other than to be on screen.
But what really kills “Dark Shadows” is the pacing. At nearly two hours, the movie is slow, and at certain points boring. And just when you think it’s going to give the audience more to offer, it just ends. Had this movie been cut by five easy minutes, then the pacing wouldn’t be an issue; but it is. There are also some story elements that are quickly explained at the last minute and that felt rushed. “Dark Shadows” just needed to be a bit stronger in order to maintain itself fully.
That being said, there are some good things about the movie. The costumes fit the time period of the 1970s perfectly. And the sets was were designed to capture the look of the original series. The script itself is taken in an adult manner, but the way the put comedy into the script just makes it demotivating to the audiences.
In conclusion, “Dark Shadows” isn’t a bad movie, just disappointing. All the hype that this movie has going for it, just became a letdown. It’s not terrible, but could have been something better that was worthy of the original television series.