This is one very expensive film (rumoured around the $175m mark), you can tell by the lavish production design, spectacular special effects and name heavy cast and crew. Its handsomely shot and its set pieces are stunning.
What seems to be causing such friction in the critical reception to it is: how do you take it? Yeah it’s based on a TV show from the 1970’s and has all the hallmarks of an Addam’s Family knock off but the film adaptation wildly (and with great abandon) swings between genres like a revolving door.
From comedy to horror to thriller to drama to romance to fantasy DARK SHADOWS wilfully throws it all at you in an incredibly uneven manner. It doesn’t seem to care where it wants to be genre wise and I imagine that will frustrate many viewers.
The ‘fish out of water’ sequences where Barnabos encounters 1972 Maine are intermittently funny but the script never really achieves that comic fantasy blend that Burton’s BEETLEJUICE did. It strives to get there.. but never quite makes it.
That’s not to say DARK SHADOWS isn’t entertaining – it is – the final battle sequence is pretty spectacular, the knowing nods to Burton’s earlier films are littered in here, the production design & costuming are faultless and the soundtrack is a cavalcade of 1970’s hits. I was impressed that they didn’t shy away from Barnabos killing people – he’s a vampire – nor did the sense of wonder ever leave the screen.
All the cast are solid in it, Michelle Pfeiffer looks a little bored but the costuming is so kitschy she looks fabulous anyway. Personally, the Alice Cooper thing didn’t work for me, but that’s not anything I’d base a choice to watch it on.
This is such a high concept property to throw into the mass arena – expecting todays film goers to relate to a 30 year all TV show set in 1972 that most people never saw is a pretty tall order – and WB/VRP have spared no expense (thanks John Hammond) in making it as lavish as it possibly can be.
DARK SHADOWS is in cinemas EVERYWHERE now.