Throughout the centuries the Collins family has endured albeit being on the verge of financial collapse with their fishing and cannery empire being overrun by Angelique's cannery and her pure hatred from the entire Collins clan. Hatred might be the key feeling audiences may be feeling upon leaving the theater if going to see Dark Shadows thinking it were to be a farce or broad comedy. Dark Shadows is neither of these things. Like the misfits that make up the surviving members of the family that live within the walls of Collinwood Manor, the film doesn't know in which direction it needs to follow thereby saving its souls from damnation.
The advertising that has been flooding the airwaves uses clips and dialogue making it seem like its a comedy but these are just sound bites and when seen within the context of the film are mildly amusing at best. They are about the only bits that rise up out an otherwise aimlessly darker film then the trailers would have you believe.
Netflix now offers the entire ABC soap by mail or streaming service. Having refreshed myself with the soap much of Burton's film is faithful to the series with bits of the script lifted almost word for word. The first time I saw the trailer for the big screen version of this classic soap I was livid about it being made a mockery of it's glorious legacy. My anger was quickly doused with joy from the first few frames aimed at diehard fans with clever inside jokes. From how Victoria Winters (the character's narrative opened each episode of the soap opera setting the scene of what had passed and what was to come) came up with her name, an alias for her and her secrets to the cameos of the surviving members of the infamous soap in a big party scene this film will bring back many fond memories for others who watched it as a child on the small screen.
If, perhaps you fall into the intended target audience or you didn't even know that this film is based on the small screen classic you may not find this your cup of blood. . . er, tea unless, like myself you enjoy Burton's work. He has a quirky dark way of story telling and Dark Shadows resembles Burton's earlier works like Mars Attacks (1996) as neither can be described as any one type of genre. Personally I feel Tim Burton and his clan can do no wrong so I left the theater feeling surprised, contented and yet a lingering air of disappointment.
"One thing you should know about the Collins family . . . we endure" is a quote from film and the strength of family is what drives the Collins to stay together through thick and thin. But, unless you're a Burton fan or member of HIS family this film might leave you feeling like Barnabas, buried alive in the dark shadows of his beloved Collinswood.
This film is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for comic horror violence, sexual content, some drug use, language and smoking.
Running time: 113 minutes.