Dark Shadows: "If A Man Can Become A Monster, Then A Monster Can Become A Man"

Director: Tim Burton
Writer:    Seth Grahame-Smith
               John August
Starring: Johnny Depp
               Michelle Pfeiffer
               Helena Bonham Carter
               Eva Green
               Jackie Earle Haley
               Jonny Lee Miller
               Chloe Moretz
               Gulliver McGrath
               Bella Heathcote
Rating:    ***

Release Date: Out Now  

Let's be honest, when I say Tim Burton you immediately think of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, and while some get annoyed by their many collaborations, I say why mess with a good thing. In their latest project together Dark Shadows they bring back an old US TV show about a centuries-old vampire adjusting to life in the 70's. It isn't their best work and it falls flat next to similar films like The Addams Family (which is funnily one of Burton's upcoming projects), but Depp fans will enjoy yet another batty performance, there's no doubt.

(L-R) Johnny Depp & Eva Green
Barnabas Collins (Depp) originally comes from an old family of shipbuilders and, in the 18th century, has the world at his feet. That is untill a wicked witch, called Angelique (Eva Green), descends upon the family at Collinsport and lustfully sinks her hooks into him. Soon after that, he's sinking his fangs into every young girl he can lay his hands on, cursed by Angelique all because he fell in love with another woman.

Once we get the whole fairy tale section of the film over and done with (in the first 10 minutes), the mood soon shifts as Barnabas is disturbed in the coffin where Angelique left him. From here, it's a fun and  amusing fish-out-of-water comedy with Barnabas delivering florid expressions of bemusement at such exotic things as lava lamps, tarmac and Karen Carpenter TV specials. He's pretty darn sure this is the devil's work.

Despite his rather quirky behaviour, Barnabas is welcomed back into the family home by matriarch Elizabeth (Pfeiffer) who reveals that Angelique still lives nearby and practically owns the town they live in, as a successful rival to their business. It's a straight, somewhat boring role for Pfeiffer and curiously, Burton never takes the chance to have the two alpha-females butt heads with one another.
Instead (though I'm not complaining), there's a lot of friction between Barnabas and Angelique, including a brilliantly funny sex scene that has them literally climbing the walls. He's a traditional English gent, and that's what makes him so endearing, but he also has a weakness for sexy witchy flesh. Even so, he's keen not to let this spoil his attempts to woo the nanny (Heathcote) who looks uncannily like his first love.

(L-R) Bella Heathcote, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jackie Earle Haley,
Johnny Depp, Chloe Moretz, Jonny Lee Miller
& Gulliver McGrath
Alas, the romantic triangle doesn't hold much strength, partly because Heathcote looks ridiculously young next to the leading man. In fact, their intimate scenes provide the only genuinely creepy moments in the film. Ms Helena Bonham Carter brings a sharper edge in her role as doctor of the house who becomes obsessed with the idea of eternal youth, but this subplot soon hits a wall, and disappears into the stratosphere.

Regardless of the title, this is a light and psychedelically colourful family portrait that also includes your typical moody teenager well played with a constant look of disgust by Chloe Moretz and Johnny Lee Miller in a self-loathing turn as Elizabeth's spineless hubbie. Jackie Earle Haley also has a few shining moments as the bizarre handyman and henchman to Barnabas. Still, there's no doubting who the star is. Depp could literally play this role in his sleep, and in a way he does. But still, he's the life and soul of the party and it is another successful film for the team of three, Burton, Depp and Carter.

Dark Shadows - Trailer