Carl the Critic: Reviews "Dark Shadows"

"Dark Shadows"

"Dark Shadows" Trailer


There are two kinds of filmmakers in this world: Realist and Formalist. The realist filmmakers generally care more about how close to real life their film is in the dialogue, character development, setting, etc. Formalist on the other hand care more about if their movie is visually interesting, colorful, dynamic, etc.

Obviously Tim Burton is a formalist, that's for damn sure. His use of colors, camera shots, and surreal atmosphere is all the evidence I need to prove this. So when going into a Tim Burton film I always expect the same things:

  • Film focus on one particularly strange character
  • There's always some sort of black and white color scheme
  • Extremely dark Gothic atmosphere in Buildings and set design
  • Usually works with the same people
  • Music by Danny Elfman (not always but usually)

These are only a few examples of what I usually expect to see in every Tim Burton film. So seeing the poster for "Dark Shadows" and the trailer I knew exactly what to expect. You may notice that I don't have any expectations for the story. This is because with Tim Burton I often give him an opportunity to surprise me, sometimes his films have great stories and visuals, and sometimes the film just has great visuals. So where does "Dark Shadows" come in?

Before I talk about that, what is "Dark Shadows"? Judging by the poster, it looks as though it's a modern day take on "the Addams Family", but that's not the case. "Dark Shadows" is a cult classic T.V. series from the 1960's that I tried to watch, but got bored of really quickly. So my expectations for a story were not very high, and after watching the film... Meh.


So Johnny Depp plays Barnabas Collins, a man who came from a life of wealth and had it all taken away when he broke the heart of some chick named Angelique Bouchard (played by Eva Green). Angelique is a witch you see, and she kills off everyone that Barnabas had ever loved, and turns Barnabas into a vampire so that he can suffer. After getting locked in a box for two hundred years, he is released only to find himself in a strange work known as the 1970's. Though only mildly confused, Baranbas returns to his home where the current Collins family is dysfunctional, but not as much as the Addams Family. Also Angelique is now the rich and successful one and when she discovers that Barnabas is alive...

Uh- I actually don't remember a whole lot about the story, because it was kind of dull, and unfocused.


I don't really hate this movie, but it's not Tim Burton's best work, arguably his best work is "Big Fish", "Ed Wood", "Edward Scissorhands", and "Batman". Tim Burton is my favorite filmmaker, but "Dark Shadows" is a film that I feel was more of a cash in on the vampire craze (along with the up coming "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter") before it completely dies away.

The film's story is unfortunately it's biggest downfall, the characters are not fully developed, the chemistry between Barnabas and Angelique is actually stronger than the Barnabas and… That girl he was with... what was her name again? Let me see here... Ah yes Victoria Winters Clark (played by Bella Heathcote) who is the girl that we are suppose to be rooting for Barnabas to get together in the end with, but quite frankly she was in only 25-33% of the movie. Barnabas spent more time with Helena Bonham Carter's character than he did with this Victoria character.

Also the story's problem is that it can't quite decide on whether or not it wants to be on one hand it's a comedy, and on the other it's a horror film, but it's not quite a horror-comedy.

So is this a bad film? Story wise, yes, however the visuals are awesome, the characters look great (Eva Green has never looked sexier), and there were some moments that made me laugh. My love for Tim Burton films will never die, because Tim Burton is awesome! This was the guy that got me interested in movies in the first place. I know what to expect from him, therefore I'm not completely disappointed, and that's what's most important. I mentioned in my review of "Insidious", Tim Burton is a filmmaker that you just know whether or not you'll enjoy his movies. He usually makes the same film, with the same people, and the same Tim Burton style that Tim Burton fans will love.


I'll just give my rating for this film. I give "Dark Shadows" a 7.0 out of 10, it's visually great, but its story isn't as much.

What about you?

If you've seen "Dark Shadows" what did you think?

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Just out of curiosity

Are you a Tim Burton Fan?

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This article was written and edited by Carl the Critic © 2012

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Comments 23 comments

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

"Oh don't exaggerate, it was 196 years!" -Angie

I saw the movie today. I was pleased with it, but the trailer had the best scenes. The soap opera was axed when I was about 8 yrs old, it terrified me yet I watched it because my mom did.

Johnny Depp rocked his role as Barnabas so I'm a happy fan:)

CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

lol that's great to hear, and I agree, the best scenes of the film were in the trailer. I'm glad you enjoyed the film, and thanks for stopping by :)

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

I forgot to add that I really enjoyed the music! I was singing along and having fun!:)

CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

lol Danny Elfman's music was great in this film, and the other songs in the film were very good. It really made it feel like it was 1970's. Thanks again for the comment :)

rahul0324 profile image

rahul0324 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

I would give the movie 6.5... I saw it yesterday.. and I thought more could have been done. Well With Tim Burton, you would expect some good isn't it!

I guess you are right... "Cash in on the Vampire craze" is true afterall :)

profile image

KDuBarry03 4 years ago

I have not seen the movie yet, but I feel as though you are spot on with the story being poor and the visuals being outstanding. Would you agree that, in various cases, the visuals overshadow the actual story, to keep the viewers attention, via visual communication tactics?

CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

@Rahul0324: I didn't think it was that bad, the film's biggest down fall is the story, but there were other aspects that I enjoyed as well. Make-up, music, cinematography, costumes, special effects, and atmosphere have always been Tim Burton's strength. Story can be really iffy, sometimes his films have a great story, while others are meh. But thanks for your input and I look forward to reading your review of the film (if you plan on making one). If you do share the link below and I will take a look :)

@KDuBarry03: Well, a lot like Tim's last film "Alice in Wonderland", the visuals can overshadow the actual story, but sometimes if the story isn't strong, or if the characters are too unlikeable, or bland, or not fully developed the viewer might get very annoyed, and wont care about the film after a while. Tim Burton fans (such as myself) will look past the not so great story and just love the fact that it was made by Tim Burton, in the same Tim Burton style that we all know and love and wouldn't have it any other way... Except with a better story. Thanks for stopping by KDuBarry03, I appreciate your question, and hoped that I answered it for you :)

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM

I can tell from your review (and your profile photo) you are not of my generation and era. "Dark Shadows" the TV soap opera was dark and serious. "Dark Shadows" the movie is a comedic parody of that TV show. It is exactly what I expected from Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. This movie was suppose to be campy and funny (and a bit horror) and it hit the nail on the head. It was not suppose to be serious and analytical like Edward Scissorshands. You had to live in the '70's to understand the TV show and its popularity and cult following. The movie captures that and the 70's details like the macrame room and the hippie's smoking the joint are hysterical. Barnabas Collins on the TV show was a vampire and so Barnabas Collins in the movie has to be one too. Burton resurrects Dark Shadows as a parody of the vampire craze going on right now and Dark Shadows the movie is not to be taken seriously. I found it delightfully entertaining and funny. But, then I'm from the original Dark Shadows era. Weird to you, I'm sure.

CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

It is true I am from a different era than you. I admit that the show wasn't my cup of tea, but Tim Burton is. I'm glad that you found the film to be a parody of the vampire craze, and a parody of the original show, however I still was disappointed in the film's story.

I'm not so sure if living in the '70's would help me enjoy the show better, because I am sure that there are people who lived in the '70's that would have a similar view as I.

I found parts of the film to be very funny, and visually amazing, just didn't like the story. I'm glad you like the film, I did a little too just not as much. And I thank you very much for your comment, and your complement of how youthful I look :D

But in all serious, I do appreciate your comment many others feel the same way.

bethperry profile image

bethperry 4 years ago from Tennesee

Carl, I really enjoyed reading your review. I had wanted to see this movie since I heard about it last year as I'm a fan of the original series and more so the brief night time series that starred Ben Cross. Then I saw the trailer for the Dark Shadows movie I just didn't know - if the show had originally been comedic I would go in a heartbeat but it wasn't and didn't win my heart because of comedy. And now that I've read your review it may be a long time -if ever- that I see this film. I love comedy you know, but this one sounds kind of lame.

Thanks for posting and I'm voting up.

CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

Thank you for your comment bethperry, I'm glad that you enjoyed reading my review. It really isn't a horrible film but the story is bad. Some of the parts are very funny, and it's a beautiful looking film (being a Tim Burton film I would be very disappointed if it wasn't) but the story... yeah not great. Thank you very much for your comment :)

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM

Sorry you didn't like the story in the Dark Shadows movie, but keep on reviewing movies. You are adorable, cute and young and your opinions and viewpoints are just as valid as us older viewers.

gail641 profile image

gail641 4 years ago from Mason City

I have enjoyed reading your review. It is excellant. Great job! I haven't seen the film, but I'm sure it's worth seeing. The story line doesn't sound too good. I did watch the series when I was young and I saw "House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows." I really loved the series back then. Jonathan Frid was great when he played the role of Barnabas and David Selby, was too when he played the role of Quentin Collins. I think that the movie would be fun to see. Voted up.

ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 4 years ago from Chennai, India

A well-written review! I totally agree with you about Tim as the formalist filmmaker and his usual techniques in his films. I am quite a fan of Tim-Depp collaboration and watched some films such as Edward Scissorhands, The Corpse Bride, Sweeny Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Alice in Wonderland. I am eager to see this film. I smiled when you mentioned you thought this film is a take-on on the Addams family as I too thought the same! Well-done!

Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Interesting. Voted up.

CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

@Suzettenaples: It's still great visually, and I still love Tim Burton. Hopefully "Frankenweenie" will be better (it seems to look like it has a better story, and if it's anything like the original short film, it certainly will be). Thanks again for your comment I greatly appreciate it :)

@gail641: It's got fun moments but the biggest downfall is the story, (and depending on the critics the characters) but it's got great visuals, the occasional funny gags, and it's a Tim Burton film (which can be taken any way the movie goer sees fit.)

@ishwaraa22: Yeah it seems at first like it is a take on the Addams Family, but if truth be told Addams family is better. Thanks for your comment and votes I greatly appreciate it.

Thank you all once again :)

Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

Hi; I'm a fan of the original "Dark Shadows" so I'm disappointed with the comical take on the film. I'm a big Tim Burton fan but he seems to be in a slump since the dreadful "Alice in Wonderland".


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

Well thanks for your comment Rob. Like "Dark Shadows", I felt that "Alice in Wonderland" had great visuals but the story... It wasn't even "Alice in Wonderland", it was a sequel "Through the Looking Glass" or something. It was just weird and and in many way I thought that "Dark Shadows" was an improvement. I believe that Tim Burton's worst movie would have to be "Planet of the Apes". Even he admits "yeah that was bad." Tim I don't think is concerned with the quality of the film, as much as he is interested in making films that just appeal to him (to some degree) pretty soon he'll come back with something better (I do hope "Frankenweenie" is a better film.)



fromMarkHall profile image

fromMarkHall 4 years ago

Was around for the tv series but never knew what to expect: Fangs or Tang??? What's really at, er, stake here though is the lack of a good story; which, I dunno, comedies don't really need if they're really funny. So, I'm guessing it's probably just not funny enough. As such, if you've seen it, how does 'Dark Shadows' compare to another vampire comedy from the actual 70's, 'Love At First Bite'?

CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

@fromMarkHall: A good story does help though, it keeps the audience invested and makes them care about the characters. Not to say that there weren't any funny parts about "Dark Shadows" it just was a "meh" film. Thanks for your comment, it shows that you car :)

Bedbugabscond profile image

Bedbugabscond 4 years ago from United States

I am going to see Dark Shadows on Tuesday, do you think I should try to watch some of the TV series first, or just go on without it?

CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

I guess it doesn't hurt to check out the original show before watching the film. Many fans of the original show seem to be upset that the film is a "comedy" when the original show wasn't, but some people say that it's suppose to be a parody of the show. All I know is that I found the show to be not my thing, and the film to be so-so, but maybe you'll like, hope you enjoy the film :) let me know what you think

Bedbugabscond profile image

Bedbugabscond 4 years ago from United States

I didn't get to see it today. My foot, (I had to have stitches) hurt to much. I am going to try to go next week if it still in the theaters. I like comedies right now; I always need a laugh. If it is supposed to be a parody then I might miss stuff if I don't watch the first one, huh?

CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

I didn't really see too much of a connection between the show and the film to be honest besides for the same characters. It's kinda funny (or at least has some funny moments) but if you're looking for a real comedy, you're money is better off on another film in my opinion. Sorry to hear about your foot, I hope it gets better :)

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