"Dark Shadows": What'd You Think?

Considering who it was up against, “Dark Shadows” did respectably well at the box office last weekend: it walked away with $28 million, which would be bad news if it weren’t up against “The Avengers”, which made $100 million last weekend and is probably coming to curbstomp “Battleship” next Friday as well.

It did less well with critics, pulling in 44% on Rotten Tomatoes.

As for us, well, it’s not the unmitigated disaster of, say, “Alice in Wonderland”. But it’s a mixed bag, as a movie, and it desperately needed an R rating.

We will say it’s way better than the trailer led us to believe; for some reason they picked the crappiest jokes in the entire movie to stuff into the trailer. Possibly this is because most of the actually funny jokes can’t be put on television, like Johnny Depp calling Chloe Moretz a whore, or Johnny Depp murdering hippies.

The cast is actually really good and well used: Johnny Depp carries the movie but everybody works overtime to make this movie work. Jackie Earl Haley as Willie was an especially inspired choice: he plays off of Depp really well.

The rating is the problem here: it’s blatantly obvious that the original script was darker and probably had a lot more in the way of dirty jokes, and somewhere along the way, big chunks of that got hacked out to please the MPAA. The result is something tonally confused, to put it mildly: the first third is straight up Hammer horror, the second third is a fish out of water comedy, and then the whole thing turns into Wannabeetlejuice.

What’s really sad is that Burton and Depp really are obviously fans of the show: the script is littered with mythology gags and references, a good chunk of the still-living cast pops up for a cameo, including Jonathan Frid, and the love of the material is obvious. But somewhere along the way, something went wrong.

Did you see it, and if so…what’d you think?