- Category: Film and TV
- Created: 17 May 2012
- Hits: 486
The trailer for Tim Burton'slatest offering had quite a few fans' tongues wagging. And worrying.
With a Barry White soundtrack, funky 1972 setting and barrage of wince-inducing one-liners, the stage seemed set for one of the director's feared "bad movies" to sit alongside Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland. And being based on a cult American Soap Opera with rabid followers didn't help much either.
It was a great relief, then, to find that the trailer has got the tone of the film entirely wrong. Yes we have the zany characters, erratic hair don'ts and pastel colours of more family-friendly fare but like Edward Scissorhands this shiny surface is hiding a heart of serious darkness.
This darkness is personified as Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp), a 200-something vampire who emerges from the ground to help his ancestors save the family business and seek revenge on the lovelorn witch who cursed him into his undead state. Depp seriously gets his Nosferatu-on as he sinks his teeth (forgive me) into the scenery, the dialogue and the locals – regretfully munching his way through a team of construction workers and a gaggle of hippies to quench his thirst.It was a great relief, then, to find that the trailer has got the tone of the film entirely wrong. Yes we have the zany characters, erratic hair don'ts and pastel colours of more family-friendly fare but like Edward Scissorhands this shiny surface is hiding a heart of serious darkness.
Emerging in 1972 Maine, our gentleman-of-the-night moves back into the family home along with the last of his clan and entourage (including the wonderful Michelle Pfieffer, Chloe Moretz and Helena Bonham Carter), and immediately plots to regain the family fortune from nemesis Angelique (Eva Green, having so much fun she cracks herself up).
Visually, the film comes across as a mashup of Burton's own Sleepy Hollow and Casper, with dashes of Austin Powers, the remake of The Haunting and Dolores Claiborne thrown in for good measure, and the uniformly excellent cast have a whale of time bringing the setting to life. The jokes are played admirably straight, and given room to breathe in extended scenes that feel almost as if they would be more at home in a Wes Anderson flick – an early dinner scene is so painfully good you'll almost be wishing that they don't bring the supernatural in at all. The biggest laugh is decidedly local however, as Barnabas reminisces about his childhood in 18th century Liverpool (guaranteed to provoke cheers from your fellow cinema-goers). Crucially, the laughter is tempered by Burton's trademark grimness, given free reign to cast a Dark Shadow (again, forgive me) over proceedings – good people die, innocents are wronged and the baddies seem to be winning - and this balance of light and dark more or less comes across successfully.
Some scenes are so dark, in fact, that you may well be questioning the 12A rating. With some of the violence graphic enough to leave an impression and enough sex (implied or otherwise) to bring on questions in the vein of (last one I promise) 'what is that nice lady doing to that vampire, mummy?', I really wouldn't recommend this for younger kids.
Not everything about the film quite works; the running time constraints leave little time to see the development of character relationships, lessening the impact of emotional payoffs, and cameos by Alice Cooper and Christopher Lee just plain don't work. But small quibbles aside you'll be dying for a sequel to broaden the scope, or even a new incarnation of Dark Shadows for TV, with Burton and Depp at the helm.
Dark Shadows is out now, rated 12A