Dark Shadows (movie review)

A shadowy tale that lives up to Tim Burton’s strangely appealing way of storytelling

Johnny Depp, a veteran in many if not all of Tim Burton’s film, played Barnabas Collins – the protagonist who had been cursed to be a vampire and buried away for eternity by a jealous lover who was a witch, Angelique, played by Eva Green.  In addition to the agony of the curse, Barnabas had to endure losing his lover, Josette, who had been killed by Angelique. By the way, Angelique also murdered Barnabas’ parents. All this happened in the 18th century.

Through time, the Collins’ fishing empire at Collinsport and family wealth dwindled to a meagre existence of the family mansion all through the vengeful scheme of Angelique.  Fast forward to 1972. Barnabas was freed and met up with the descendants of the Collins’ family headed by Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer). Other more notable family members are Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz), David (Gulliver McGrath) and family doctor Dr Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter).

So, the fun began with Barnabas trying to rebuild the Collin family wealth in his plan to take back what was rightfully his from Angelique, now known as Angel. The movie poked fun at all things 70s that were strange to Barnabas. Even though they were well delivered by the straight faced Depp as the pale face vampire, I thought sometimes the lines fell a little flat.

I think the best part of the movie for me was the sex scene between Depp and Green. It was raw and funny at the same time, reminded me of something from Twilight, but delivered with much more quirkiness and pizzazz. I didn’t quite get the chemistry between the two probably due to the bad censorship in Malaysian cinema but I loved Depp who portrayed the lust of a 200-year-old vampire perfectly and most deliciously.

All in the all, everyone in the movie played their characters well. Green was totally flawless (in appearance) as the vengeful witch and jealous lover but she left me with much to desire, probably because her character was not that deep to start with. Worthy of mention was Chloe who embodied the angst filled teen wonderfully with a twist in the end.

Ultimately, it was still Depp who carried the movie with his well horned eccentricity and dark humour which captured the essence of Barnabas fittingly. Despite that, his portrayal fell (very) short of his first Tim Burton character, Edward Scissorhands. Another funny thing to note is that Depp seemed to be jumping off cliffs all the time in his latest movies – the Pirates of the Caribbean series and now this one too.

The lightness of the movie makes it fun to watch and there is also a hint of a sequel in the end… and so Barnabas the vampire will return.

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