Media Monday: Dark Shadows

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Dark Shadows movie posterTitle: Dark Shadows
Media Type: Feature Film
Director: Tim Burton
Studio: Warner Bros.
Genre: Paranormal
Summary: [from IMDB]

An imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection.

My Review

You know how I say I rarely read reviews, because I don’t want my opinion to be colored by what other people are saying? Sometimes I really REALLY wish I did. Dark Shadows wasn’t just bad. It wasn’t even really bad. It was downright horrific, and not in a good way. All the reviews would have told me that too. Why, oh why am I so stubborn?!

Firstly, there seemed to be four or five different plots going on at once. Each character has some backstory and their own secrets, but they’re all jumbled together. Most of the characters tell their backstories in quick, voice-over flashbacks (aside from Barnabas, who gets a whole 5 minutes of introduction at the beginning). The effect is very disjointed, and definitely telling rather than showing. Some of the characters don’t even get a backstory. One character in particular revealed a large secret right in the middle of the final “battle” so to speak – and I hadn’t even known she had a secret in the first place! Without the build-up and expectation, the reveal lost its power, and felt rushed and unnecessary.

Then we had the characters – clicheed to the extreme, these characters could have been funny if done in a satirical way. Instead, all of the characters were played with a straight face, no laughing required. There was hardly time between all the information-giving segments that let us know who the characters were in the first place. Add to that the fact that the POV never seems to stay put long enough to give us a real narrator and I barely made it through the whole thing – the only thing keeping me going was knowing I wanted a Halloween-ish review for this week!

As horrible as I thought the film was, all the “mistakes” are pretty easy to understand. It’s hard to transform a TV show with a lot more time to devote to developing 4 or 5 story lines into a single coherent plot. My advice? Pick a narrator and stick to it! (I would pick Vicky – she has the added bonus of being an outsider looking in on the Collins family, plus she has her own secrets to discover.) Cut out all the useless bits of information that are only there to make your job easier. (SPOILER, highlight to read: For example, did we really need to know that Carolyn was a werewolf? Talk about Deus ex Machina!) If you’re really determined to get all those storylines in? Why not do really well at one or two of them, and then MAYBE you’ll get a sequel, so you can bring in the rest.

Bottom line: Tim Burton may be great at his animated, slightly weird films, but I wouldn’t advise you to touch this one with a 39 and a half foot pole.

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One Response to “Media Monday: Dark Shadows”

  1. […] week I reviewed: Dark Shadows (an awful AWFUL movie!), Anna Dressed in Blood (a creepy thriller) and The Knife of Never Letting […]

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