There was a lot of opportunity in director Tim Burton’s big screen adaptation of “Dark Shadows,” but that potential is only faintly realized. The movie has choice production qualities that are not matched by the script, the character portrayals or the humor.
Depp does good work as Barnabas Collins, the entombed son of a family who built a fishing empire after coming to the U. S. in the 18th century. But it is now 1972, and Barnabas has been accidentally unearthed after two centuries in a coffin by a construction crew, whom he promptly murders by drinking all their blood. Barnabas, now a vampire because of a spell put on him by a sexy witch, Angelique, apologizes to the dead men, telling them that after 200 years, you get very thirsty if you’re a vampire.
When Barnabas returns to his ancestral manse, he finds it rundown and in disrepair. His relatives who are now living there have fallen on hard financial times because their fishing business has been practically destroyed by (you guessed it) the evil Angelique, who is now running a huge cannery operations. Once Angelique learns Barnabas is back, an old love triangle struggle is reignited. The chemistry between Barnabas and Angelique is the only thing in this film that is a real grabber.
Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter and Jackie Earle Haley appear in major supporting roles. In “Dark Shadows,” Barnabas is back to conquer Angelique’s evil doings in modern times and bring his descendants back to the good life.
“Dark Shadows” has stilted, predictable narration and dialogue. In trying to be a little of everything, it only succeeds at being a ghost of what ot could have been.