Movie Review: Dark Shadows

Movie Review: Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows


PG-13 for comic horror violence, sexual content,
some drug use, language and smoking.
Genre: Horror
Running Time: 1 hour 43 minutes

In the year 1752 Joshua and Naomi Collins – with their young son Barnabas – set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas has the world at his feet, or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas, is rich, powerful and a playboy until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard.

The Twisted Mind of Burton and Depp Together Again

Dark Shadows is classified as a horror. But as the PG-13 warning say – it’s really comic horror. Yes there are scary parts in this movie, but it is by no means a horror movie in the genre of what usually comes to mind when one thinks horror.

But keep in mind – Dark Shadows is by no means a family-friendly movie.

Dark Shadows starts with Johnny Depp narrating the backdrop for the movie. Along the way we discover things turned bad for Barnabas when Angelique Bouchard – a witch – dooms him to a fate worse than death. She turns him into a vampire and then has him buried alive! Two centuries later Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He of course returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better.

I really had no idea what to expect when going into this movie. I knew it was not a horror picture in the true sense of the world. The trailers revealed the fact that while there were scary moments, there were also some funny moments tossed in for good measure too. I did know Dark Shadows would be in the “out there” category since the team of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton were back together. Burton always seems eclectic and Depp is the ever-eclectic type. He shines in roles like this. Of course with Burton involved it also means the film technique will be unusual and splashes of color will show up in the most amazing places.

While Burton and Depp do not disappoint the die hard fans, I found Dark Shadows rather predictable in the film technique category. The story is not predictable and there are some fascinating surprises tossed in along the way.

But from the standpoint of creativity, it seems Burton and Depp have fallen into a creativity valley where nothing new under the sun exists. 

With a Corpse Bride type feeling Dark Shadows could be described as nothing more than a twist on the Corpse Bride theme moved from animation to the real actor world. It is somewhat disappointing from this aspect. There’s simply nothing new here. The humor is funny at times and yes, it is rather comical to see Alice Cooper pulling out his old material as he flashes back to 1972 for his Ball Night appearance with his band. But for the most part Dark Shadows falls flat and maybe should have stayed in the shadows.

From a parental standpoint – parents – remember this movie carries a PG-13 rating. But, Dark Shadows is far from family-friendly. While the F-bomb does not appear in this movie it should probably have an R rating. Yes it is comical humor, but it is a scary movie for the young. When I screened the movie a mother had her young daughter with her sitting behind us. She spent more time talking and trying to make light of the scary parts that it was absurd and intrusive.

Parents – this is NOT a movie for kids.

If you’re a Burton and Depp fan, you will find something to like about this movie. While it’s not the most stellar performance this duo have put together, it is still true to the Depp-Burton genre. For that, the fans of this pair will enjoy Dark Shadows.

Yours in movie reviews!

Dr. Rus

About the Author

Dr. Rus has 30+ years experience in the field of communication. He takes this experience, and his passion to encourage others to positively effect their environment, when providing insight and movie reviews.