In Dark Shadows, all the attention to detail was apparently reserved for the film’s aesthetic quality. Considering that weird is pretty much Burton’s modus operandi, however, that’s not even all that awe-inspiring anymore. So when the camera’s done panning over every detail of a room, the script quickly segues into let’s-shock-them territory, whether it’s the random bursts of violence, a thoroughly bizarre sex scene when Barnabas eventually succumbs to Angelique’s charms, a slew of blush-worthy double entendres or the darkest parts of Dark Shadows where characters dabble in the occult to downright scary effect.

From time to time, the whole we’re-just-making-it-up-as-we-go sensibility may give some movies a much-needed madcap spark, but in Dark Shadows it simply comes across as nearly two hours of unnecessary frustration, less the creation of a mad scientist than a bad idea that simply didn’t deserve the green light.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking and cigarette smoking, plus a group of free-spirited students are shown smoking weed.  
  • Language/Profanity: God’s name is misused on a couple of occasions, plus a smattering of other profanity including he--, da--, bast---, and bit--.
  • Sex/Nudity: Countless sexual innuendos, often involving crude references to the male anatomy. A woman is referred to as a “whore.” David informs everyone at the dinner table that Carolyn “touches herself” and makes loud noises while doing so. Angelique is often shown wearing very low-cut shirts and dresses, and in one scene, she opens her jacket so Barnabas gets a pretty good view of her breasts (no nudity, just a lot of cleavage). In a very bizarre love scene, Angelique and Barnabas have sex (no nudity, but the scene goes on and on for comedy’s sake, apparently).
  • Violence: Definitely more bloody and gruesome than the Twilight franchise but not as gory as TV’s True Blood series, there’s still a pretty high body count, thanks to Barnabas’s pervasive thirst for human blood. Without giving too much of the plot away, several characters are killed in sporadic acts of off-screen violence. We also see two young women leap to their death and another character die (and thrown into the nearby muddy waters) after a blood transfusion gone wrong.
  • Supernatural/Occult: References to hell, demons and Satan. The ghost of David’s departed mother warns the Collins’ house inhabitants of impending danger. Angelique is a witch with a very vengeful side, and it’s her curse that not only turns Barnabas into a vampire but ensures he’s buried alive for centuries. She also uses her “powers” to get whatever she wants, including the death of the woman who David really loves. SPOILER ALERT: As Angelique begins to realize that Barnabas is really, truly never going to love her, she ups the ante on the spells and basically destroys everything she can before literally cracking under the pressure.
     

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blogFor more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.