Box art for Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows

action & adventure, comedy, sci-fi & fantasy

After being turned into a vampire by a jilted lover, Barnabas (Johnny Depp) is entombed for two centuries until he emerges into the very changed world of 1972.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 13
1 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
Positive role models
0 out of 5
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Mixed-up Depp/Burton vampire comedy has blood, innuendo.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dark Shadows is Tim Burton and Johnny Depp's big-screen adaptation of the cult '60s TV vampire soap opera, with a generous helping of silliness added. There's plenty of vampire violence and blood, though the blood is deliberately fake-looking, and the killings largely take place off screen. A flashback sequence involves a young girl's parents shipping her off to an asylum, where she's locked in a cell and receives electroshock therapy. While there's no nudity, there's lots of sexual innuendo and passionate kissing -- and a 15-year-old girl is disturbingly sexualized, often posing, dancing, or speaking in sexy ways. Language includes several uses of words like "s--t," "bitch," and "bastard"; the main character smokes pot in one scene, and supporting characters are shown drinking to excess. This isn't swoon-worthy vampire cinema a la Twilight, but Burton and Depp fans should enjoy the duo's always-quirky pairing.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about Dark Shadows' vampire violence. Is it scary or funny? Which is it meant to be? What's shown, and what isn't shown? How does that affect its impact?
  • Are the scenes with 15-year-old Chloe Grace Moretz sexy or uncomfortable? Is she too young for this material, or does the movie's playful tone make it OK?
  • How is Angelique portrayed? Talk about female stereotypes in novels and films, particularly the "sexual (but evil) temptress."
  • Why do you think so many of the characters in this movie drink so much? Does the movie treat this seriously or jokingly?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 20
    see all Dark Shadows reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Rotten: At once a brash, strutting pop culture pastiche and gloomy exercise in self-cannibalizing nostalgia, "Dark Shadows" is depressing on myriad levels.

- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, Friday, May 11, 2012

Rotten: This is not so much a coherent movie as it is a long, expensive joke in search of a purpose.

- Anthony Lane, New Yorker, Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rotten: Handsome, vaguely true to the old soap opera, and inert.

- Bob Mondello, NPR, Thursday, May 10, 2012

Audience Reviews

3 stars

3 3/4's--As a child (running home from grade school), my friend and I would go to my house and watch Dark Shadows from behind my mom's sofa...well, we were scared kids, but we loved the show! I honestly had no hopes for this movie. I'm really tired of Tim Burton, but I was extremely surprised that this film was rather enjoyable. To me, its Burton's best film...because it was so un-Burton. Depp was very funny. Pfeiffer was super-campy. I really liked the original show's references. All in all I enjoyed this....

- itsjustme2004, Saturday, September 15, 2012

2 stars

Tim Burton fumbles it yet again, so badly that not even Depp can't save it.

- fb7018436, Saturday, September 8, 2012

3 stars

Strange Is Relative. Good Movie! Tim Burton is probably one of the best choices to direct a Dark Shadows movie. He's always good at making Dark, Gothic films and everyone's expecting it to be something like Sweeney Todd and Sleepy Hollow. Instead, it has a hybrid of Corpse Bride and Beetlejuice. It begins with decent gloominess but the rest is scattered with groovy soundtrack and colorful images. But that may not be the problem. It's actually pretty good at recapturing the 70's. The main problem is the plot development. It's fun but also disappointing. Dark Shadows is undeniably entertaining and nothing else. There are things that could have been better. I don't think the colorful groovy look is the problem. It just needs a better ending that gives consistency to the story. People can still give it a try for its camp. There's a true vampire here that is nothing like our modern vampires. Dark Shadows is not bad. It's just unsatisfying. It has the color, life, and all but what's missing is a proper plot development. In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet-or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy...until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better, each harboring their own dark secrets. Matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) has called upon live-in psychiatrist, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), to help with her family troubles.

- xXGiNoBiLiPRXx, Friday, September 7, 2012