Dark Shadows

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Seldom does a preview really do a bad movie justice.  Remember those unappealing trailers for last summer’s campy remake of the classic ‘70s cult soap opera, Dark Shadows?  Well, they kind of nailed it.  It’s not actually as gaudy and silly as the ads made it out to be, but it is fairly boring, one actor turned in the worst performance of a career, and it runs out of plot about 30 minutes in.

But those first 30 minutes!  They are so, so very watchable.  Tim Burton & Co. absolutely nailed the period gothic revival flair, calling to mind films like Burnt Offerings and anything written by Shirley Jackson.  The mood is perfectly set by a marvelous flashback sequence to the 18th century and the founding of the Collins family fortunes—and misfortunes.  When wealthy Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) rejects his housemaid Angelique’s (Eva Green, The Golden Compass, Casino Royale) advances in favor of a more suitable mate (Bella Heathcote), Angelique reveals her witchier side, luring Heathcote’s Josette to her death and somehow cursing Barnabas into a vampire, then leaving him locked in a coffin for the next 200 years.  This segment beautifully launches the film, which jumps ahead to the “present” (1972) and a mysterious young woman (also Heathcote) alone on a train—practicing her interview, and her alias, for a post as governess at the Collins manor house.

Continue reading

Advertisements