Every few years on Halloween’s eve, somewhere between a sharp crack of thunder and a wolf’s longing howl, Tim Burton phones Johnny Depp to ominously announce:
“It is time.”
“Right,” Depp sombrely replies, “I’ll start applying the makeup.”
This is the unofficial story of how Burton and Depp’s eight collaborations have come to pass, the first being the broodingly brilliant Edward Scissorhands, and the latest being the broodingly not-so-brilliant-but-still-entertaining Dark Shadows.
Based on a classic TV soapie from the 60s and 70s, Burton’s Shadows is less dark than it is droll, poking post-modern fun at the notion of an 18th century vampire, the very dandy Barnabas Collins (Depp), awakening in the psychedelic 70s after two centuries of forced slumber.
Admittedly, it’s a shame to see Burton favour obvious fish-out-of-water humour over something with more subtly, sincerity and scares, but that doesn’t stop Dark Shadows from diverting with its visual grandeur, pleasing performances and a surprising amount of sass. It mightn’t be in 3D, but you’ll still be dodging the sparks that fly between Depp and his vixenish co-star, Eva Green.
So while the tone awkwardly tip-toes between silly and serious, and the story stagnates not long after it begins, Dark Shadows still left me in good spirits, as nearly all of Burton and Depp’s collaborations have in the past. Perhaps if every Hollywood film featured the grand yet gloomy decadency of a Burton production, I’d be more inclined to get caught up on where his films go wrong. But they don’t, so I won’t.
For a more in-depth (and silly) take on the film, watch my video review of Dark Shadows below: