Movie Review: Dark Shadows

“Dark Shadows” on IMDB

Fantasy,  113 Minutes, 2012

I think I had some trouble with this one because the trailers all prepared me (very well!) for a light-hearted fish-out-water (or, more specifically, a vampire-out-of-time) story decorated with some gothic trim.  Instead we get an almost completely deadpan melodramatic horror-themed love story more befitting the film’s soap-opera roots.

Like most cult properties I’m sure that some will consider my lack of knowledge on the subject tantamount to a criminal act but have to admit that I never did see the original TV series.   I have no basis for comparison or understanding of what choices in the film were paying homage to the source material or were made specifically for the film.

I understand that the time period, 1972, was chosen to honor the series which ended in 1971.  Unfortunately with the exception of fairly lame hippy jokes and the musical selections it could have been today, 1980, 1956 or any other modern time.  The time period simply didn’t evolve as the character that it might have been.

The acting was, as you might expect from this A-list cast: excellent across the board.  The set pieces were wonderful but Collinwood Mansion, although beautiful and intricate, never really solidified as a personality for me.  We kept hearing people talk about how run down it had become but didn’t really see it.  We saw individual rooms repeatedly but never really got the sense that they were actually in the same building.

“Dark Shadows” was a lot of (rather serious) fun but held back by choppy pacing and a script that couldn’t really settle on what it wanted to be: light and satirical or deep and dramatic.  Instead it just wobbled ungainly between the two.  It’s a good movie but definitely not a return to the days of “Ed Wood” [IMDB] or “Edward Scissorhands” [IMDB] for Depp and Burton.

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