Quirky Director + Eccentric Actor = Brilliant Film!

No this is not a standard formula, but definitely one that works in Dark Shadows – the latest offering from director Tim Burton’s stable. He joins hands with Johnny Depp yet again to come up with a vampire tale with the craziest twists you can imagine. Correction – the craziest twists that you cannot imagine! A comical take off on the dark and disturbing vampire films of yore, this one will have you chuckling with its wit and sheer absurdity. 

Little Barnabus Collins comes to America with his parents and is raised in luxury; a direct contrast to Angelique Bouchard, the daughter of their maid. His father establishes a huge fishing business and around that grows the town of Collinsport. Along with the business, little Barnabus grows up to be a handsome young man who Angelique falls in love with. He sleeps with her (but of course) but does not love her (but of course!). He falls in love with the impossibly pretty and innocent Josette DuPres. Well hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and all that, so Angelique gets her revenge by driving Josette to her death. Barnabus is turned into a vampire and later buried alive in a coffin thanks to Angelique’s machinations. 

Bored ? Do not be hasty just yet! I too was wondering if I was in for a usual Victorian vampire story with damsels swooning all over and garlic pods. I should have known better. If there is one thing that Burton and Depp are incredibly good at – it is entertainment, entertainment and entertainment, and this film gives you that in large doses. A mixture of bizarre and bawdy sprinkled with banal, the film has it all. 

Cut to 1972 when pretty and demure Victoria Winters arrives at Collinsport and then to Elizabeth Collins Stoddard’s doorstep to fill the position of a nanny to David Collins, her young nephew. Victoria’s introduction to the last surviving members of the Collins family is delightfully funny only if you read the subtext between the lines. The family is dysfunctional to say the least and each person seems to hide a secret. The huge mansion seems haunted and Victoria sees strange apparitions.

In the midst of all this, a construction crew unearths a heavily chained coffin buried deep underground while digging. No prizes for guessing who is inside the coffin. The return of Barnabus Collins is bloody amazing – in more ways than one! His attempts to get familiar with a world that has traversed a few hundred years while he was in the coffin are hilarious to say the least. For an American actor, Depp plays an Englishman with superb aplomb. And even if he did not, his charisma can pretty much carry off an entire film 🙂

I am not in the mood to give out the story, so here is where my tale ends. Go watch the film to know more because it deserves an audience for sheer imagination and fun value if nothing else. The climax is a bit macabre but then it is a vampire film remember!


The stellar cast of Dark Shadows:

Johnny Depp – Barnabus Collins

Michelle Pfeiffer – Elizabeth Collins Stoddard

Helena Bonham Carter – Dr. Julia Hoffman

Eva Green – Angelique Bouchard

Bella Heathcote – Victoria Winters

and many more.


Copyright © Tara Verma May 2012

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