Film review: Dark Shadows

17:00, May 12 2012
Dark Shadows
OLD ROGUE: Johnny Depp as vampire Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows.

Dark Shadows, M, 113 mins 12

Although the term auteur is out of fashion, Tim Burton is one of a tiny group of film directors who might be classed as one – no-one else could have created most of his films, or at least they would have looked quite different. His kooky high gothic style perfectly suits the stories he chooses: The Nightmare Before Christmas, Beetlejuice, Batman, Sweeney Todd, Corpse Bride, Edward Scissorhands.

Dark Shadows, his latest collaboration with Johnny Depp, wife Helena Bonham Carter and soundtracker Danny Elfman, takes its story from a 1960s-70s US TV show that few in this country will have seen. It's the same period – hello hippies, lurid outfits, lava lamps, and startlingly crisp renditions of Nights in White Satin and The Carpenters – and a once-wealthy family are reduced to two strange servants and living in a few rooms of their huge, but dilapidated mansion, on the hill above the fishing village they founded. Depp is the vampire ancestor who's returned to make his family great again, and wreak revenge on (Eva Green), Angelique Bouchard, the witch who imprisoned him and doomed his one true love.

There's much, much more, the kook level is set to maximum, and it's periodically amusing, but I found it all a bit wandering and pointless. The lowest point for me came when Alice Cooper got to sing not one, but two songs. It's 1972 and he still looks the same. That's just weird.

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