There is a curious practice called bait and switch in which one is sold a bill of goods and yet receives another. This practice is illegal, except when it comes to movies. Filmmakers can make a trailer that describes their film one way and then make a totally different film. That may be a slight exaggeration, but there are trailers that include footage that is never seen in the theater. Then there is “Dark Shadows,” the new Tim Burton and Johnny Depp collaboration.
If you’ve seen the trailer for this film, you know it has a wide variety of funny bits pieced together to get you to go and see the movie. Admittedly this trailer does intrigue the viewer enough that many folks will want to see this story, and then there is the popularity of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton to consider.
What the trailer does not include is the dark tone set in the film and the violence that occurs. If you think you are going for a comedic ride with the Collins family, you are only partially correct.
The story begins in 1750 when the Collins family leaves Liverpool to make their fortune. They do so in the fishing business along the coast of Maine. Barnabas (Johnny Depp) sees his family gain wealth and builds an empire. Barnabas grows up and is somewhat of a playboy. When he does find his true love, Josette (Bella Heathcote), Angelique (Eva Green) becomes angry and uses her powers as a witch to curse Barnabas and make him a vampire.
Two hundred years later, Barnabas escapes his coffin after being found by a crew of workmen. Being trapped for that long, he is thirsty, and he quenches his thirst right there. Barnabas decides to reclaim the family business only to find Angelique has been around the whole time trying to destroy the Collins family.
The workers that find Barnabas’ coffin are not the only victims he will feed upon, and that is where the similarity with the trailer ends. The advertising for this film makes it out to be a campy film that is comedic all the way to the end. Instead, the comedy is spaced throughout the film. The bits are there, but they are surrounded by other scenes that are dark.
It is a given that no one is going to take this film seriously since it deals with mythical creatures, but it would have been nice to know about the dark side of this film. This is not a Twilight film though, thankfully. There are moments when the fight is real between the characters of this film, and there is nothing comedic about it.
Despite the bit of deception in the trailer, this is a good movie. Tim Burton has a talent for making a dark film entertaining and creepy. Then there is Johnny Depp making another character for the silver screen. He is wonderful as Barnabas Collins with his 18th century mannerisms living in 1972. The story will keep you interested as the plot progresses, and the characters are intriguing.
There is a bit of violence in this film, ranging from hearing people being killed to actually seeing Barnabas biting people. There is also some sensuality in it that is campy without any nudity. Other considerations for the PG-13 rating given to the movie include language, innuendo, smoking and some drug use.
It is hard to condemn anyone for making the trailer they did. It will get people to see this film. Even though the trailer has a different tone than the film, “Dark Shadows” is entertaining. Just remember that it has succumbed to the dark side, at least a little.
Shawn O'Neill is the Family Man Movie Reviewer on BYU Radio. His reviews can be heard on BYURadio.org and on SiriusXM Channel 143.