Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows

(M) Roadshow DVD/BD

Despite being one of the best known directors in Hollywood today, Tim Burton hasn’t quite been on song in the last decade. After making some really original and brilliant movies in the 1990s (Edward Scissorhands, Batman, Ed Wood), in recent years his movies tend to have underwhelmed.

While Dark Shadows doesn’t really see Burton breaking any new ground — which will be fine by his many fans but frustrating to those growing tired of the usual Burton/Depp shtick — it does prove to be a bit of a return to form.

An adaptation of a cult 1960s supernatural soap opera, Dark Shadows is the latest in the line of recent Burton adaptations and re-imaginings following on from Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Sweeney Todd.

The film follows the story of Barnabas Collins, a vampire who, having been buried alive for almost 200 years, is dug up in 1972.

He sets about trying to restore his family’s seafood business to its former glory after it has been run into the ground by business rival Angelique, who also happens to be the witch who turned Barnabas into a vampire.

Burton and Depp were both great fans of the series in their youth and the affection they clearly have for the source material really comes across in this film. The contrast between the garish sights and sounds of the 1970s and the more gothic elements of the story really plays to Burton’s style, which has always been a mix of gothic and kitsch.

Depp plays Barnabas as an old-fashioned, Romantic-era vampire and much comedy is drawn from Barnabas struggling to get his head around 1970s culture.

Dark Shadows is easily Burton’s funniest film of recent years, possibly ever.

For a reviewer who was getting used to being disappointed with Tim Burton’s films, Dark Shadows was a pleasant surprise. This is not Tim Burton at his absolute best but it is as close as he’s been for a number of years.

Duncan McLean

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