Tim Burton’s DARK SHADOWS – a remake of an old television show from ’60s – is not a good movie. It’s not that it’s horrible; it’s just painfully lackluster in just about every way imaginable. Marking his eighth collaboration with Johnny Depp, DARK SHADOWS doesn’t seem to know what it is – and while a more original or adventurous duo might have used this opportunity to create a unique tone and voice, Burton and Depp play it safe and wind up with even less than the sum of the film’s parts.
After an excellent prologue and a very solid first act, the film devolves completely into a generic “man-out-of-time” story with mild gothic overtones. The arcs are indistinct, the characters are thinly drawn and the story seems to meander around with no clear purpose or danger. Our would-be protagonist, Victoria Winters – played adequately by the beautiful Bella Heathcote – practically disappears for what feels like the entirely of the second act, and yet somehow maintains an integral role and purpose in the final proceedings; which, by the way, make almost no sense and seem to come out of nowhere. The final act is almost entirely unnecessary and nonsensical, and takes the film from “adequate” to “bad”.
The film is (somewhat) salvaged by its appropriately pleasing art direction, which is to be expected from a Burton film, but is never supposed to be the only thing going for one. Depp phones in his role in his typical, quirky fashion, and manages to get a few mild chuckles, while everybody else just pays their dues and does what is required of them. The film is ultimately just a mess, and there is very little to praise or even enjoy here.
DARK SHADOWS isn’t funny enough to be a comedy, clever enough to be satire or competent enough to be good drama. It’s a waste of a lot of talent, and feels like it was slapped together at nearly every stage except for pre-production. Skip this one.