Disappointed by Dark Shadows

There’s a few director/actor combos out there that, when I hear their names together, I know I’m going to see the movie, regardless its premise.

Guillermo Del Toro and Ron Perlman are one of my favorites. They could do a movie on Economics of Ancient Aegean Societies, I’d be like “I’m so there! Do you recon Fandango is preselling tickets?”

Needless to say, Burton and Depp are my other favorites. From Scissorhands to Alice in Wonderland, I’ve been hooked on their wacky wonderfulness for decades. I was so sure that Dark Shadows was going to be another gratifying encounter. I took it for granted. It even had Bonham Carter in it. In my movie world, they’re like the Trio That Can Do No Wrong.

Turns out, they can do wrong. Dark Shadows totally harshed my turducken/burdepham mellow.

From the first scene I was waiting for Burton’s extreme surrealism, his over-the-top use of colors, or costume, or make up, or SOMETHING! but, instead of acid psychedelics, I got watered-down disco glam. The closest Dark Shadows got (before I stopped paying attention), was one very black and white scene in which Bonham Carter’s character’s red hair contrasted nicely. It was a bit of signature Burton, and I wanted more of that, but alas, I was to be disappointed. He had this big ol’ creepy mansion to work with and it never became more than a big ol’ creepy mansion, well, except for the awesome animatronic fireplace. More animatronic fireplaces next time, Burton! There was a fish factory scene. Burton has done musical wonders with assembly lines (see Edward Scissorhands and Charley and the Chocolate Factory). There were no musical wonders in the fish factory. Boo.

I expected campiness to the Nth degree, but I only got it to the, like, Hth, degree, or maybe just the Gth, degree. Campiness was a town just a few miles down the road, but they ran out of gas before they got there.

I expected MAGIC! I don’t mean vampire magic, or Eva Greene’s witchery. I mean Burton’s cinematic wizardry—he goes to some ethereal plane in his movies that only he knows how to find; that world is our world on a pharmacological high. In Dark Shadows it was like somebody put his magic on a Xanax. Dare I say it (it’s almost blasphemous)…It took itself a little too seriously. Oh nooooo! Is it because it was based on the old 70s Dark Shadows soap opera? I didn’t think Burton was hung up on trying to stay true to things, but maybe he did in this case. I don’t know. I’ve never seen an original episode.

I wanted a great soundtrack. I think there was a Barry White song. Sigh. I understand the movie was making fun of the 70s and Lord knows Karen Carpenter should only be played ironically, so thumbs up for that, but one time I woke up and saw that Alice Cooper was on the screen singing and I was like, cool!, but then I realized it was current, old, gross Alice Cooper and I went back to sleep.

The best scene in the movie was…**SPOILER** When Barnabus sucked Bonham Carter dry and she made a noise like someone hitting the bottom of milkshake. More vampires sucking on milkshakes next time, Burton!

I looked up at some point during the last 20-or-so minutes to see that the angsty, teenage daughter was a ** SPOILER** werewolf. I rolled my eyes and went back to reading my Kage Baker book, which was way more entertaining and humorous. Tell me, when are they going to make In the Garden of Iden into a movie? I think Johnny Depp could make a really great Joseph/Don Anzolabejar, but for just this once, let’s leave Burton and Carter out of it and see what happens.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lucy
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 18:48:29

    Like you, when I hear Burton/Depp I go in with high expectations. And yeah this movie wasn’t their greatest collaboration. I actually saw this in the theaters with my daughter and we knew the reviews were bad but thought how bad could it be?

    I couldn’t really put my finger on what went wrong or what felt off about it, but your review articulates it beautifully. I’ve never seen the soap opera either but you could be right that Burton didn’t want to stray too far from the original.

    And OMG I forgot about the daughter turning into a werewolf but maybe I blocked it out! Love your review 🙂


  2. squee1313
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 23:38:39

    To be fair, everyone gets to have an off day. It’s not like the next Depp and Burton collaboration won’t get me excited. I’m pretty much a fan for life. They’d have to torture puppies, or the equivalent there of, in their next movie to turn me away for good.


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