"Finding Love in All the Wrong Places"
What You Need To Know:
A dark comedy, DARK SHADOWS is full of laughs. The performances are charismatic, with good direction from ever-quirky Tim Burton. Also, there are some affirmations of family and free market capitalism. However, DARK SHADOWS suggests a bloodthirsty murdering vampire can represent the forces of good in defeating an evil witch. It also contains occult content, brief lewd content, and strong violence. Finally, the movie’s Romantic worldview has references to reincarnation and vampire love. This flawed worldview makes DARK SHADOWS unacceptable viewing, despite the more entertaining, positive elements.
(RoRoRo, OO, FRFR, BB, CapCap, L, VV, S, A, DD, MM) Very strong Romantic, emotions-driven worldview, whereby two lovers (one of them a vampire) are reunited across the centuries, situated within a dominant theme of occult happenings, including vampirism, magic, sorcery, and strong false religion that includes false theology about damnation and suggestions of reincarnation, but tempered by a strong affirmation of family, loyalty, friendship, and love, as well as statements defining witchcraft as the succubus of Satan, plus a strong capitalist theme supporting free enterprise and the importance of small business; two obscenities, one strong profanity, three light exclamatory profanities, and scene of vomiting; strong violence includes brutal fall from the top of a cliff at the end of which the bodies crush against the rocks, fighting, and vampire sucking blood and murdering people; implied sex includes protagonist and women kiss and fornicate plus there is one reference to the teenage daughter “touching herself”; no actual nudity but the witch wears scant, seductive, revealing clothing (although it remains on during a sex scene), and she rips off her panties off screen to place them across the protagonist’s mouth when he’s entombed in a coffin; alcohol use; illegal drug use by hippies who smoke marijuana and reference tripping; and, movie breaks down into a seriously problematic worldview by portraying the dysfunction of characters who seek eternity through damnation and wish to be turned into vampires, in addition to lying, deception, suicide, dysfunctional family (a father abandons his son), and promoting the idea that true love can only be found via eternal damnation.
Adding to the legacy of highly occult teen-targeted vampire love-stories, the 2012 big-screen adaptation of DARK SHADOWS is steeped in the stellar performances of an all-star cast as well as careful execution and great sets, costuming, and special effects. Sadly, the story falls at the end, and the final sequence extols the misleading theme that true love can actually (and only) be found in eternal damnation of the soul.
Barnabas Collins, son of a wealthy British fishing magnate who migrated to the United States in 1760, loves the ladies – or, rather, taking what he wishes of them (on the piano, on the desk, wherever he can), provided he need not declare his love. One day, he meets the pure and beautiful Josette and falls madly in love. His former lover, Angelique, will have none of it. If Barnabas will not love her, he will love no one.
To add to the problem, Angelique is a witch. She drives Josette to suicide, and, when Barnabas throws himself off the cliff to join his beloved, he discovers he cannot die. Angelique has turned him into a vampire. Still, he will not love Angelique. Scorned, she feels justified in turning him in to the townsfolk and burying him in a coffin deep underground. There, Barnabas remains – for two centuries.
Fast forward to 1972. Collinsport is now ruled by Angelique (still living and still a witch), and the Collins empire is decaying. A young woman who calls herself Vicky (and who strangely resembles a reincarnated Josette) has felt herself called to the town since childhood. She shows up one day for a post as governess on the Collins estate.
That same night, construction workers dig up a mysterious coffin and release Barnabas from his prison. He promptly drinks their blood to quench two centuries of the munchies. Eventually, he has to confront Angelique to save his family and Vicky.
As the story unfolds, JOHNNY DEPP is charming and charismatic as a two-hundred year-old vampire rediscovering the world and all its changes, from electricity to motor cars, rock music, and hippie culture.
DARK SHADOWS is highly entertaining, full of laughs, and filled with charismatic performances. Barnabas wishes to be part of his family once again and restore them to their former glory. The reestablished rivalry between Barnabas and Angélique provides the main plotline, but the character of Vicky isn’t sufficiently developed to drive viewers to the movie’s final scene.
[SPOILERS FOLLOW] Scorned once again by Barnabas (although he does have relations with her), Angélique tries to drive Vicky into reenacting Josette’s suicide, but Barnabas stops her just in time. Then, Vicky asks him to turn her into a vampire so that they can love each other forever. However, Barnabas has vowed never to let her suffer the life he endures! So, Vicky leaps to her death and tricks Barnabas into feeling he has no choice but to turn her into a vampire during the fall. Consequently, the lovers are reunited in each others’ arms for the long-anticipated kiss.
Sadly, this ending implies that true love has no real place in this world (although it is a biblical virtue), but can be shared after death between two damned vampire souls. The movie also suggests that a bloodthirsty murdering vampire can represent the forces of good in defeating an evil witch.
The highly flawed worldview makes DARK SHADOWS unacceptable viewing, despite the inspired performances, clever humor, and numerous affirmations of family and free market capitalism.