Dark Shadows may be the final nail in Burton-Depp coffin


Peter Mountain

Barnabas (Johnny Depp) plays with David Collins (Gulliver McGrath) after his 200 year slumber. With this film, some might wonder if the Burton-Depp duo has lost its creative spark.

Gabe Lyons, Staff Writer

Filmmaker Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp have become quite the Hollywood duo. Beginning with their collaboration on the critically acclaimed film Edward Scissorhands, they have made eight films together, ranging from a biography (Ed Wood) to period horror (Sleepy Hollow) to children’s book adaptations (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland) to a blood-drenched musical (Sweeney Todd).

Their most recent endeavor, a film adaptation of the 1970s satirical gothic soap opera Dark Shadows, offers a bloody look at an immortal who reappears after being locked in a steel coffin for over 200 years. The film follows him as he tries to adapt to 1970s culture.

In 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins and their son Barnabas cast away from their native Liverpool on a ship bound for America with hope of escaping the strange curse that looms over the family. Two decades pass, and a very wealthy Barnabas (an unexpectedly bland Johnny Depp) has become the bee’s knees of the town of Collinsport, Maine. Everything is going in his favor, until he makes the not-so-smart decision of breaking the heart of the woman who loves him, Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). A witch, she responds with an attack resulting in a fate worse than death: turning Barnabas into a vampire, locking him in a steel coffin, and burying him alive.

Over two centuries have passed, and Collinsport has become one of the fishing industry’s hot spots. Near his burial ground, some construction workers are doing some work around the woods. Barnabas is freed from his coffin to Collinsport to the strange, counterculture-struck 1972, and returns to his ancestral home.

The film is full of sub-par performances, starting with the surprisingly annoying Michelle Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer, as the 1972 motherly owner of Barnabas’ old home, presents herself as a helpless being, exactly the opposite of her character, who plays a large role in the film’s climax. Chloë Grace Moretz, who proved that she can give a noteworthy performance with the comic book comedy Kick-Ass and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, gives virtually no effort in a role that, frankly, does not take much effort to pull off, as Pfieffer’s Alice Cooper-loving daughter.

The film is soaked in blood. Wait, this is a vampire movie, right? So isn’t there supposed to be blood? Well, yes, but not nearly much as what is seen in this. There is simply too much blood. After an hour and a half, the blood becomes unrealistic. It makes one feel as if half of the $150 million budget was spent on stage blood.

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp fail to impress with their eighth collaboration. With less than memorable performances, a screenplay that gives the impression that it was once found in a screenwriter’s dustbin, and an overabundance of blood, Dark Shadows fails to step out of the shadows into the light. Considering their seventh project, the 3D Alice in Wonderland — a boring, messy special effects extravaganza — it is hard to tell whether the director-actor duo can put out another at least somewhat decent picture.