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
    37%
  • Audience Score
    46%

common sense

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

    37%
    reviews counted: 20
    see all Dark Shadows reviews
  • Audience

    46%

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

4 stars

Dark Shadows goes straight up there to one of Tim Burton's best films. It is entertaining and stylish film that also actually manages to be funny and scary at the same time. With one hell of a impressive cast and fantastic production team Burton has made a dark, gothic and impressive looking film that uses its 70's era setting with groovy elegance. One of the most surprising elements in Dark Shadows is how funny it actually is. There are impressive dialogue between films main characters written by Seth Grahame-Smith and i really liked the mix of retro-colours with more familiar gothic look of Burton. I also liked how effective some of the scares of this film are. Especially the first thirty minutes of this film are truly chilling haunted house material with ominous woods, eerie atmosphere and ghosts lurking in corridors of huge mansion. When the more comedic style kicks in the film loses some of it's sharpest edge but it still never gets boring or uninteresting. It is fresh to see how playful Tim Burton still is with this kind of wicked material and how much fun he seems to have with his actors. Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Helena Bonham Carter and Chloe Moretz are all extremely good in their roles. While Depp is fantastic as a cursed Barnabas Collinwood, it is actually women and their energetic performances that make this film as delicious as it is. Family of Collinwood is full of juicy characters and their close servants are equally far out. I must mention that i was also very surprised from the performance of Bella Heathcote who is one of the most impressive actors and biggest revelations of this film. She is completely unknown for me and truly captured something unique into her performance as a Victoria. All these actors and their characters run into a collision course in a one wonderfully staged climax that rivals as a one of the most impressive set pieces that Burton has ever made. It is as thrilling as Sleepy Hollow's heart pounding chase climax and as majestic as the massive final confrontation at the end of Planet of the Apes. It definetly goes up there as a one of the iconic moments in Burton's own career. Dark Shadows has a screenplay that is often quite unpredictable in a best possible way but that screenplay also has its problems in a form of rhytm and balance of comedy and horror. If those minor flaws of screenplay would not exist then this could have been the masterpiece it nearly becomes. Dark Shadows is a must for anyone who like horror or Burton or especially if you like both of them. It is a funhouse full of inspiration and cinematic invention. It is also the best film in Tim Burton's career since his masterpiece Planet of the Apes. One of the very best films of 2012.

- emilkakko, Sunday, January 6, 2013

4 stars

Dark Shadows goes straight up there to one of Tim Burton's best films. It is entertaining and stylish film that also actually manages to be funny and scary at the same time. With one hell of a impressive cast and fantastic production team Burton has made a dark, gothic and impressive looking film that uses its 70's era setting with groovy elegance. One of the most surprising elements in Dark Shadows is how funny it actually is. There are impressive dialogue between films main characters written by Seth Grahame-Smith and i really liked the mix of retro-colours with more familiar gothic look of Burton. I also liked how effective some of the scares of this film are. Especially the first thirty minutes of this film are truly chilling haunted house material with ominous woods, eerie atmosphere and ghosts lurking in corridors of huge mansion. When the more comedic style kicks in the film loses some of it's sharpest edge but it still never gets boring or uninteresting. It is fresh to see how playful Tim Burton still is with this kind of wicked material and how much fun he seems to have with his actors. Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Helena Bonham Carter and Chloe Moretz are all extremely good in their roles. While Depp is fantastic as a cursed Barnabas Collinwood, it is actually women and their energetic performances that make this film as delicious as it is. Family of Collinwood is full of juicy characters and their close servants are equally far out. I must mention that i was also very surprised from the performance of Bella Heathcote who is one of the most impressive actors and biggest revelations of this film. She is completely unknown for me and truly captured something unique into her performance as a Victoria. All these actors and their characters run into a collision course in a one wonderfully staged climax that rivals as a one of the most impressive set pieces that Burton has ever made. It is as thrilling as Sleepy Hollow's heart pounding chase climax and as majestic as the massive final confrontation at the end of Planet of the Apes. It definetly goes up there as a one of the iconic moments in Burton's own career. Dark Shadows has a screenplay that is often quite unpredictable in a best possible way but that screenplay also has its problems in a form of rhytm and balance of comedy and horror. If those minor flaws of screenplay would not exist then this could have been the masterpiece it nearly becomes. Dark Shadows is a must for anyone who like horror or Burton or especially if you like both of them. It is a funhouse full of inspiration and cinematic invention. It is also the best film in Tim Burton's career since his masterpiece Planet of the Apes. One of the very best films of 2012.

- emilkakko, Sunday, January 6, 2013

3 stars

"It's the heart and the bold attitude of a filmmaker that makes his film entertaining at a high value and today wasn't the best day for Burton." There's no miracle that Tim Burton knows how to create dark cartoonish worlds in which wild colors and vivid characters battle for the enchanted ground of these fantastic universes. Dark Shadows is wild, goofy, and colorful but it kinda feels like an asthma crisis. You know you have this urgency and impatience to watch the next Tim Burton film but even as a fan of him it does nothing in the end but providing you sudden gasps time after time. It's an interesting thing because Burton films usually have a really well developed emotional core. Here he probably wanted to pay an expensive, comical, and glossy homage to the more classic TV show but he didn't manage to give the film it's own identity, it's own soul. Sure it looks fantastic but that's a really slutty compliment you can give Burton considering that he's a master of that and we're already used with his rich vision of the fantastic. I admire Burton because I respect his guts and his obvious love for film. He's passionate, he's paying a lot of attention to details, and usually he delivers great films on their own. He has his misses like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Alice In Wonderland but you can't deny this guy's incredible taste for the mythical and the surreal. He's like the Mad Hatter of cinema. He does nothing short than record dreams on film. Walking into Dark Shadows with high expectations was a bit disappointing not because the movie ended up being bad but because the movie failed to be a great Tim Burton film. If this film was directed by someone else it would have been probably praised for it's design and considered a decent tribute to a classic TV show. However, since we have to deal with the fact that this is a Tim Burton film, we also have to deal with the fact that we're expecting something a bit more different even if executed by the same recipe. This is probably one of Burton's most lazy story executions and is not a great follow-up to Alice in Wonderland. Not only did he missed the soul in this film, he missed a great amount of the expected dark humor, he missed avoiding making the gothic cliches so obvious, he missed the excitement button, and on top of that he also missed a huge portion of the character development. The one character we should root for, Barnabas Collins, played in a goofy, spooky, but already tiresome manner by Johnny Depp, is not at all that accessible and pleasant. All the other characters are far more interesting than him. There's no awesomeness in his own senile and campy behavior. I found myself enjoying a lot more characters like the drunk and sleepy Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley), the stuck-up Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller) or the distressed, bored, and impatient doctor Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), and even Barnabas' nemesis, Angelique Bouchard, played in a very erotic but manly way by Eva Green. Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard and Chloe Moretz as Carolyn Stoddard are the most forgettable characters in the film not only because of their irrelevant and unimportant actions, but also because of the less cartoonish approach. The contrast between these characters is way too broken and dispersed. The concept behind this story of this cursed man to be a vampire, getting lost in time, and fighting love, adapting to new a new world and new situations is much bigger and interesting than it is presented here. We have a typical, really sketchy and kitschy "from A to B" way of storytelling. And it is wrong because it becomes not only predictable but stale and bland. Visual luxury is not a luxury in a Burton film anymore. We need much more than that. We need Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Sweeney Todd or something completely different but don't treat your audience with the typical. The typical annoys us, frustrates us, and forces us to sigh instead of cheer. The soundtrack is really great and matches a lot of the scenes and the aura of the '70s. It's one one of the things that I completely enjoyed in this film. Also the score provided by Danny Elfman, though not a standout, really subtle and well orchestrated. Burton does a pretty good job at this, making the transition from the gothic, old, rusty world to the fresh, modern, and hippy period of the '70s. The cinematography, the lightning, the set-design, the costume-design, the make-up, and everything else is top notch but that doesn't really count for a great experience. It's the heart and the bold attitude of a filmmaker that makes his film entertaining at a high value and today wasn't the best day for Burton. Story: 6.0 Acting: 7.5 Technical Execution: 9.1 Replay Value: 6.0 ==================== OVERALL: 7.3

- monteraiulian, Wednesday, September 5, 2012