Sometimes when a director harkens back to his yesteryears it can be a wonderful thing. On the flipside, sometimes a director puts everything he’s used in the past on the table and revels in it. Case in point today would be Tim Burton. The man has made almost nothing but classics since 1985 when he unleashed his own brand of brilliant lunacy with Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. Sure, the road has gotten bumpy the last few years and he’s had a couple of lesser films along the way, chiefly Mars Attacks! and his own attempt to reboot The Planet of the Apes.
Some people aren’t huge fans of Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride, or even Alice in Wonderland, but they’re still mere blips on his radar in the grand scheme of things. And now, Burton and Johnny Depp (along with the screenwriting debut for Seth Grahame-Smith of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter fame), arrive with their own shaky take on the beloved Dan Curtis-created, cult classic soap opera, Dark Shadows. A culmination of filmmaking techniques employing everything he’s used from Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, the aforementioned Sleepy Hollow, but unfortunately, not enough Sweeney Todd.
This Dark Shadows begins with a voice-over courtesy of Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) in Liverpool, 1760. Boarding a ship with his parents, they set off to build a fishing village in Maine, which they name Collinsport. Years later, Barnabas is eluding the affections thrust upon him by Angelique (Eva Green), who works as a maid. Turns out that Angelique is a real witch (literally) and kills off his parents. That still isn’t enough to warrant his love as Barnabas falls for Josette DuPres (Bella Heathcoate). The only thing Josette winds up falling for is her own death as Angelique casts a spell on her causing her to commit suicide with Barnabas deciding to try to take his own life and throws himself over the edge as well. But Angelique has already cursed him to become a vampire so that he may live forever in suffering.