“Dark Shadows”
There’s a reason why critic reviews of this one are all over the map: so is this film. Refusing to be a specific genre, it plays at being several at once:
1) Vamping-it-up, like friendly neighborhood vampires, paying homage to the old “ Munsters ” television show.
2) Tongue-in-cheek humor, such as the unsuspecting cleaning lady inadvertently finding the vampire hanging upside down behind the curtain.
3) Straight vampire drama: vampire Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp), who’s been terrorizing the townfolk, is locked in chains inside a coffin and buried deep underground for, oh….several centuries, until inadvertently exhumed by a fatally ignorant construction crew, which doesn’t survive to tell the tale, because, well, he was so thirsty by then.
4) A love/hate romance. Barnabas Collins was in love, long ago, with a fair damsel named Angelique (Eva Green, who really is French). But he spurned her affections for his one true love (Bella Heathcote), whom Angelique cursed with suicidal tendencies---a very effective revenge. Barnabas Collins is devastated, of course, but Angelique, a witch, isn’t through with her hatefulness: she then curses Collins with being a vampire, so he can forever regret his ill-fated romantic decision. But Barnabas and Angelique, reunited in the 20th century, enjoy one rousing, literally climb-the-walls re-introductory romantic fling before resuming their bitter rivalry.
5) A family drama involving generations. It seems the Collins have had a fishing business for centuries, but there are some extrasensory talents that keep popping up inside the family tree, also: like the ability to converse with the departed. Like being a teenage werewolf?
So, sometimes we have comedy, sometimes drama, sometimes horror, sometimes parody, and as viewers, we’re not quite sure how serious we’re supposed to be in taking this in, but, maybe in the end, it doesn’t matter. You just accept Tim Burton’s weird direction for the strange offering that it is, and be thankful that it is, at least, a coherent story, featuring quality secondary actors like Michelle Pfeiffer and Helena Bonham Carter and Chloe Grace Moretz. Just remember that offhand offbeat backbeat.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Interim Pastor, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas