Dark Shadows (Film)

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 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 surprise that he's never donned the vampire robe. At least, until now.

Dark Shadows departs from its gothic origins, a 1960s American television soap opera, mixing humour, horror (people die and get their blood sucked) and satire.

A long introduction outlines the Collins family's rise, and how Barnabas (Depp, below right with Gulliver McGrath) 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 dig him up 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 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, the film is disappointing and unambitious; it relies too much on the Burton-Depp halo effect. It lacks direction, as if Burton is unsure where he wants to go with the story.