Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Dark Shadows

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for comic horror violence, sexual content, some drug use, language and smoking
Profanity:Some strong language (b-word, s-word)
Nudity/Sex:Sexual references and situation
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking, drugs (marijuana and pills)
Violence/Scariness:Frequent horror-style peril and violence, some comic but some graphic, characters injured and killed
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:May 11, 2012
DVD Release Date:October 2, 2012

“Dark Shadows” tries to sink its teeth into the legendary 1960′s supernatural soap opera with both ironic distance and visceral thrills.  It can be done — see the original “Men in Black” — but wonderfully weird visuals from director Tim Burton and a highly watchable performance by his muse, Johnny Depp cannot keep the tone from faltering and the results are unsatisfying.  One big problem is a criminally underused cast.  Eva Green matches Depp as Angelique, the woman scorned whose witchcraft turns the young heir Barnabas Collins into a vampire and curses all of the Collins family forevermore.  But Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Lee Miller, Jackie Earle Haley, and Chloe Grace Moretz (“Hugo,” “Kick-Ass”) have little to do but pose in Colleen Atwood’s fabulous 70′s costumes.  Co-scripter Seth Grahame-Smith, whose genre mash-ups include Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) has produced a script that does not work as tribute or update.

Barnabas Collins was the young son of a wealthy family who came to America in the 1770′s and settled in a 200-room mansion on a cliff near a Maine fishing town.  Angelique (Green), the daughter of a servant, loved Barnabas or, more likely, she loved his wealth, position, and power.  When he told her he could not love her, she unleashed her witchy revenge.  She enchanted Josette (Bella Heathcote), the girl Barnabas loved, so that she committed suicide by jumping off the cliff.  When Barnabas tried to follow her, Angelique turned him into a vampire who could not die.

Barnabas is captured and shut into a coffin for nearly 200 years.  When a construction project digs him up, he enters the world of 1972, which is almost as confusing and dysfunctional as his descendants.  They are: Elizabeth (Pfeiffer), her louche brother Roger (Miller), her sullen teenage daughter Carolyn (Moretz), and Roger’s “I see dead people” son David (Gulliver McGrath).  They live in a partitioned-off wing of Collinwood Mansion with drunken caretaker Willie Loomis (Haley), a dotty housekeeper, and a substance-abusing psychiatrist named Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), who came for a brief time to help David after his mother’s death but stayed for years.

No one believes Barnabas at first, despite a convincing resemblance to the family portrait.  But he tells Elizabeth he is there to restore the family to wealth and power and proves his good intentions by leading her to treasure hidden in a secret room and he begins to seem no less believable than the other members of the family.  With some vampire version of the Vulcan mind meld, he persuades the local captains to switch from their association with the dynamic woman who controls most of the fishing business in the area.  She is none other than Angelique, still going strong and still in the midst of a big love-hate thing with Barnabas.  And there is Victoria, a new governess for David, who looks just like Josette (Heathcote again).

Depp is clearly having a blast with his character’s gothic formality of movement and linguistic curlicues and Green has a great triumphant/demonic smile.  Whenever they are on screen the movie picks up and their intimate encounter is hilariously room-shaking.  Barnabas experiences the wonders of the modern age, including some that we take for granted (paved roads, television) and some that feel as mystifying to us as they do to him.  Shag rugs?  Lava lamps?  But the plot is as creaky as the hinges on Barnabas’ coffin.

Parents should know that the ghoulish plot concerns vampires, ghosts, and witches.  While some elements are comic, the film has stylized but graphic horror-style violence, characters injured and killed, sexual references and an explicit comic sex scene, some strong language, smoking, drinking, and drug use.

Family discussion: What were the biggest differences Barnabas found when he returned after 200 years?  How was he most like and unlike his relatives?

If you like this, try: Episodes of the original black and white television series and the fantasy film “Stardust”



Previous Posts

How Do Movies Show Time Passing?
Someone once said that movies are "pieces of time." A few take place in "real time." Alfred Hitchcock's experiment, "Rope," unfolds in just the time it takes us to watch it, all in what appears to be one seamless shot. But others take place over days, weeks, years, even generations. Slavko Vorkap

posted 8:00:40am Jul. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Boring TV Makes You Fat
A new study finds that boring television leads to mindless snacking and that leads to putting on pounds. So, watch programs that excite and engage you. Or, if the show is boring, turn off the television.

posted 8:00:05am Jul. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Switched at Birth and the End of Life
I'm a big fan of ABC Family's Switched at Birth and have appreciated its complicated characters, honest and heartfelt relationships, and compelling storylines, as well as its unprecedented, in-depth portrayal of the deaf community. Last week's episode may have been the all-time best (SPOILER ALERT)

posted 3:59:49pm Jul. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Comic-Con 2014
It's here!  San Diego Comic-Con begins Wednesday night in San Diego and I'll be there.  This is my favorite event of the year, a chance to find out what everyone will be watching, listening to, playing, and otherwise enjoying over the next few years.  As I always say, this is the Iowa caucuses of

posted 8:00:20am Jul. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Wish I Was Here
My intention was to review Zach Braff's new film without mentioning the controversy he stirred up in funding it via Kickstarter.  My view was that what mattered was the movie itself, and the kerfluffle over how it was all paid for was beside the point.  But it turns out that it is the point.  "Sc

posted 7:21:07pm Jul. 20, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.