Dark Shadows (Rated R) 2 Stars
It is hard to pinpoint exactly where Dark Shadows (113 minutes) made its misstep. Genre blending itself is not usually enough to doom an otherwise good movie. A bit of Tim Burton flourish generally adds a touch of whimsy that will at least manage to entertain. The Johnny Depp/Helena Bonham-Carter thing usually works out, and the show upon which the movie was based is a cult classic. But something went horribly, horribly wrong, because this more or less sucked from start to finish.
In an attempt to introduce a new audience to the original Dark Shadows mythos, the film opens in the 18th century. A couple of Collins’ sail from England to Maine, founded a town and built a Manor. Their only son, Barnabas (Depp) is kind of a jerk and takes advantage of the help, Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). Evidently we are supposed to ignore the class and gender politics inherent in this plot line and instead focus on how unjust it is that the wronged woman actually dares to challenge her patriarchal oppressor. It is really hard to know who to sympathize with because, yes, Angelique apparently does curse the Collins family, but also, they kind of sort of deserved it.
So, once Barnabas is done heartlessly using the girl that loves him, he moves on to a more socially appropriate match, Josette du Pres (Bella Heathcoate). She ends up dead, and he ends up plunging off a cliff, realizing he is a vampire and getting buried in chains of silver.
Fast-forward to 1972. Maggie Evans, randomly re-naming herself Victoria Winters, (also Bella Heathcoate) travels to decaying Collinswood Manor to take a job as governess to David Collins (Gulliver McGrath). She hitchhikes from the train station and is ushered in to the Manor by Willie Loomis (a completely miscast Jackie Earle Haley). Victoria insists that everyone call her Vicky, including matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (a scenery-chewing Michelle Pfeiffer).
At dinner, Vicky meets the rest of the household, including Dr. Hoffman (Bonham-Carter), Carolyn Stoddard (Chloe Grace Moretz) and David’s father Roger (Jonny Lee Miller). Now that all the cast is in play, maybe we can get some sort of plot going on? Yes. Finally something relevant to the rest of the movie occurs. Barnabas wakes up and slaughters a bunch of people, which totally expands the sympathy the audience built up for the character after watching him receive some just desserts for sexually exploiting Angelique earlier in the film.
He hotfoots it over to the manor and tries to inject some comedy into the film by referring to modern technology as demonic and misunderstanding the McDonald’s sign. It really is a laugh-a-minute, except, the opposite of that. Finally, he introduces himself to the Collins family who immediately accept the mass murderer into their home without compunction. It totally works out great! From there, the plot becomes utterly nonsensical. At least Angelique comes back! Except she is still sort of obsessed with her first love, because, of course, women can’t find fulfillment or define themselves without a man.
Overall, there are only two really enjoyable parts to the film. First, the soundtrack, while not without flaws, is pretty enjoyable. Second, the end of the movie. Nothing particularly good happens at the end of the movie, I just really enjoyed the fact that it was over.
Now showing at Wynnsong 7, Carmike 12 and Carmike Market Fair 15.