After revealing his dark secret to matriarch Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer) and vowing to restore the family name to its former glory, Barnabas becomes smitten with Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote), a young governess caring for the youngest member of the Collins family who bears a striking resemblance to Josette DuPres, the woman Barnabas loved as a young man.
Despite themes of love, obsession, betrayal and revenge, Burton has made the curious decision to eschew the material’s soap opera roots and reimagine Dark Shadows as a comedy. As Barnabas attempts to familiarize himself with the strange new world around him, Depp’s wide-eyed stare and deadpan delivery ensure that the fish-out-of-water humor works more often than not, but many of the other jokes that attempt to poke fun of the era’s “sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll” attitude fall flat.
[pullquote_left]The film meanders along, struggling to establish any real sense of identity.[/pullquote_left]Dark Shadows marks the eighth collaboration between Depp and director Tim Burton, and while the film features many familiar trapping of the Depp/Burton combo, including quirky characters, lavish costumes, and ghoulish makeup for Burton’s favorite performer, it finds itself burdened with too many characters and too few ideas. Dark Shadows struggles to establish any real sense of identity, meandering along until a preposterous climax that feels every bit as out-of-place in this film as Barnabas Collins feels in 1972.