Not to say I didn’t enjoy Dark Shadows, but if you wanted to be generous, you might say Dark Shadows is a send up of Tim Burton movies, but that might be over-thinking it. It’s certainly a spoof of something, though, to be fair, what Tim Burton does, he does well. And that is highly stylized, cool-looking movies and he has a team of people that give him exactly what he wants. From the makeup to the costumes, to sets to music, Dark Shadows is all about atmosphere, just the way Mr. Burton likes it. You can see why the filmmaker has taken to animation and stop motion; there is not one iota of reality in this live action flick. They are essentially graphic novels come to life and there’s nothing wrong with that.
All the same, I was a little disappointed in Dark Shadows. You can always tell if a movie is really funny by how many scenes make you laugh that you haven’t already seen in the trailers. In Dark Shadows, the answer is none. For a fluff flick on a Saturday afternoon, I can’t really complain, but there is a lot of fun that could have been had with a ’70s vampire melodrama and I think Burton missed that opportunity. The movie looked great, the soundtrack was killer (pun entirely intended), Johnny Depp was hamming it up hardcore, and Michelle Pfeiffer was a firecracker, but the plot was mundane and most of the acting was less than what these actors could bring. I’m sure they delivered exactly what Burton asked of them, but that was just another opportunity missed.
I never watched the original Dark Shadows, but I know people who did and they’ve said it had a certain credibility because it was, oddly enough, based in a kind of reality, like all good soap operas are. But the movie chose to spoof the original in an all-too obvious way, which is understandable, but meant I didn’t get what I really wanted; a spoof of the modern “vampires are good boyfriend material” stories like Twilight and the Vampire Diaries. I would have really enjoyed that. Although, it occurs to me that maybe that’s what Burton was trying to do. If that is the case, he missed the mark. All-in-all, I would say, if you’re looking for a neat-looking movie and a few easy laughs on a Saturday afternoon, you could do worse than Dark Shadows. Of course, you could just go see The Avengers again and possibly be further ahead . . .