Sauntering Shadows: Burton offers beautiful identity crisis
TIM Burton's Dark Shadows is all dressed up with nowhere to go, an elegant production without a central drive. There are wonderful things in the film, but they aren't what's important. It's as if Burton directed at arm's length, unwilling to find juice in the story. Yes, the original TV soap opera is a cult classic, but he approaches it as an amusing trifle, and at feature length we need more than attitude to sink our teeth in.
The opening is gripping, creating expectations the movie doesn't satisfy. We learn the early history of the Collins family in America, which would create a fishing dynasty and spawn the vampire Barnabas Collins
(Johnny Depp). Burton is famous for his visuals, and here we have a symphonic evocation of the Gothic sensibility. He shows the erection of the Collinwood mansion, a shriek of architecture, on a hill above the new Maine town of Collinsport. We learn how young Barnabas falls in love with the angelic Josette (Bella Heathcote) and spurns the love of Angelique (Eva Green).
Angelique is a witch. She forces Josette to flee in terror to a cruel stony finger pointing out from a rocky cliff. Waves dash the stones far below. He pursues her, tries to save her, is unable to stop her from falling to her death from the point. This is great storytelling because it's played straight. I didn't expect the whole movie to be pitched at this level, but it sets a note it never matches. Barnabas, made into a vampire by Angelique, is wrapped in chains, sealed in a coffin and buried for 190 years. The story moves forward to 1972, when the joke is that a vampire like Barnabas from the 1700s is out of place. Full ReviewRead more on: Dark Shadows