Dark Shadows

23 May 2012 | 11:49 am | Ian Barr

Dark Shadows is Tim Burton's latest collaboration with Johnny Depp, and it's tempting to end this review right here considering how little it sees Burton venturing outside what one expects a latter-day Burton/Depp joint to consist of.

It's based on the gothic soap opera of the same name that ran from 1966-71, with Depp playing 200-year-old vampire Barnabus Collins, formerly cursed by jealousy-spurned witch Angelique (Eva Green) and back from the grave after being accidentally unearthed in 1972 by construction workers, and into his old mansion populated by his succeeding family members. From thereon, the film plays as a fish-out-of-water comedy, albeit one that feebly pits the very Victorian Barnabus against the era of women's lib and hippies and whatnot. Credit to Burton for not unearthing Barnabus in 2012 for a litany of iPad/Lady Gaga jokes, but pitting one bygone era against each other isn't much better.

Despite a vaguely promising, Beetlejuicy start, and a few good gags that the film's trailer has already spoiled (unfairly or mercifully, depending on your point of view), Dark Shadows eventually collapses into a loud, incoherent mess of warmed-over Burton-isms. It's alarming how much feels missing from a film already overstuffed with superfluous characters and subplots; most notably Barnabus' romance between the visitor to the mansion (Bella Heathcote), who he believes to be his reincarnated love. When Alice Cooper ca. 2012 shows up in a party scene playing Alice Cooper ca. 1972, you'd be hard pressed to find a better metaphor for Burton's waning shtick.