I have never seen the original Dark Shadows, so I am coming in to this with only the trailers giving me pre-conceived notions. Being a Johnny Depp and Tim Burton vehicle, I expected more. All I could mange was a few giggles and stifle even more yawns.
Barnabus’ (Johnny Depp) family came to America in 1750 to expand their fishing business. The expansion was a success and the town was named Collinsport. Barnabas becomes a man, and Angelique falls in love with him. She expresses her love to Barnabus, but it is unrequited. He instead falls in love with Josette. Angelique kills Barnabas’ parents, causes Josette to kill herself and curses him to be a vampire. (From what I have learned about vampire lore from books and other movies, a vampire is not created by casting a spell.) At some point after the curse, Angelique gets a mob to attack and bury the monster. He is set free in 1972 to find the family business and estate in ruins. Angie and her “ancestors”, have been running the company that has dominated Collinsport since Barnabas had “gone away.” (They neglected to say who exactly took over the business as the principal players were out of commission.)
The story seems to be based on 3 shaky topics- showing how comically out of place Barnabas is, needless sex references (specifically with Angelique [Eva Green] & Doctor Hoffman), and depicting how obsessed Angelique is. More on this later…
The other players had potential to add to the story that was never explored, or was left on the virtual cutting room floor. It felt like everyone was just a backdrop to support Depp’s greatness. Here’s who we could have learned more about:
David Collins (Gulliver McGrath) – Descendant of Barnabas who is considered troubled because he can see and speak to ghosts, specifically his dead mother.
Dr Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter) – She is the consistently hung over, onsite psychiatrist who has been treating David for his “condition.” (There doesn’t seem to be much of a condition, except in the conversations about it.)
Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller) – David’s never present dad. We do learn one more important thing about his character later…
Carolyn Stoddard (Chloë Grace Moretz) – David’s older sister. A 15 yr old growing up in an unquestionably crazy situation, with nowhere to turn.
Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote) – David’s nanny, as if having your own live in doctor is not enough.
Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley) – The drunken, underutilized caretaker.
David’s mother (Josephine Butler) – Or should I say the ghost of. She was introduced to us as a child masquerading as a ghost. A ghost in a sheet. Really? I think they wrote her in so she could be recalled to help add absolutely nothing to the haphazard, confusing ending.
What I took away from this is that no matter how powerful, successful, pretty or smart a woman is, she can still be monumentally crazy. 200 years after Barnabus’ imprisonment, Angie has built an empire, is (still) a witch, and haves whatever she wants. Except the love of a single man. When she learns that Barnabas has risen, she attempts to get him back.
I don’t know where Tim was headed with this one, but he missed the exit.