Dark Shadows

Year: 2012
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: Seth Grahame-Smith
Cast: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Chloë Grace Moretz, Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Lee Miller, Jackie Earle Hayley, Bella Heathcote

It's official. There should be an internationally mandated law by the UN International Labor Orgaisation that Johnny Depp isn't allowed to work with Tim Burton for five years.

They make such a great creative team with their oddball styles it was a dream come true... for awhile. Edward Scissorhands was thrilling and fresh. What seems like a dozen collaborations later, Dark Shadows is just the latest in a long line of otherworldly characters in Burton-esque environments of twisted trees in scary forests, gargoyles and haunted mansions.

Depp is 18th century industrialist Barnabus Collins, whose family has established a fishing town on the US east coast and made him a fortune. But when a local witch (Green) who's in love with him casts a spell, his beloved fiance throws herself off a cliff and he's transformed into a vampire, locked underground in a coffin for two centuries.

Fast forward to 1972 and Collinsport is still a fishing town, but Angelique – the witch behind the curse – has taken over in the form of the lissome, take-no-prisoners CEO of Angel Bay Seafood.

When Barnabus is released from his tomb amidst a construction project he seeks out the dysfunctional descendants of his family promising family matriach (Pfeiffer) they'll restore the name to former glory.

There's a young boy searching for a father figure, the new governess who looks exactly like Barnabus' doomed fiance from centuries before, the live-in psychiatrist with the addictive personality (Bonham Carter, only feeling like she's there because she's in all her husband's films) and myriad other subplots and strands.

For awhile Dark Shadows does an okay job of keeping them all aloft, but it all falls in a heaps in the third act as they're rushed to completion, forgotten altogether or wrapped up stupidly in ideas that seem to have occurred to screenwriter Seth Graham Smith (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) five minutes before filming. What starts out richly detailed ends up an unfocused mess.

The one thing that saves Dark Shadows from being an all-out travesty is the comedy. Fish out of water comedy is certainly nothing new, but Depp and his co-stars plumb the gags about an 18th century nobleman adapting to the early 70s to the full. Standouts are his reaction to Alice Cooper ('that is the ugliest woman I've ever seen') and the stoning gag, but none of them can save the plot from falling in a heap.

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