Depp's dark disappointment

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 May, 2012, 12:00am


Given all the unusual roles Johnny Depp has played over the years - Edward Scissorhands, Willy Wonka, the Mad Hatter and Captain Jack Sparrow - it comes as a gothic surprise that he's never donned the vampire robe. Until now.

Dark Shadows is based on the 1960s American television series, but the tone is very different. The series was a gothic soap opera; the film is humour-driven, but also has horror (people die and get their blood sucked) and satire.

An extended prologue outlines the Collins family's rise and how Barnabas (Depp) was cursed to become a vampire by a witch, Angelique (Eva Green), after he broke her heart. She buries him alive for two centuries until workmen uncover him in 1972.

He returns to the old Collins home and meets his descendants, including matriarch Elizabeth, in whom he confides. He plans to restore honour to the Collins' name by outwitting the queen of the town, Angel - who bears a striking resemblance to his old nemesis, Angelique ...

There are enough laughs in Dark Shadows to carry it along. The visuals, decor and costumes are what you'd expect from director Tim Burton: everything is dark, grey and black, in contrast to the characters' pale skins.

Yet overall it is disappointing and unambitious; it relies too much on the Burton-Depp halo effect. The film feels directionless, as if Burton is unsure where he wants to go with the story.