Dark Shadows (Filthsposition)
(This is a guest review from my friend Filth, who you may now know for his thoughts on Game of Thrones. Here he has made his way into talking about movies too because like one of this films characters he had a sudden need to get his claws out. Enjoy.)
Let’s cut right to the point- I honestly believe that this is the worst movie I’ve seen in years. I think this is easily the worst film Tim Burton has ever directed, and I think this should be studied in Film School as an example of what NOT to do when making a movie. Here’s why:
* It can’t decide what genre it wants to be- It halfheartedly tries to be a drama, then halfheartedly tries to be a comedy, then a horror, a romance, a parody, etc. It just commits to a tone or a genre. It’s incredibly unwieldy and unfocused. A truly great film like, say, Shaun of the Dead, can deftly balance many tones and genres, but Dark Shadows is hopeless at that. It just comes across as a movie with an identity crisis that wants to be all things to all people but ends up being a big pile of nothing. It needed to more clearly define what it wanted to achieve.
* There is no urgency or suspense- The thing moves along without any sense of forward momentum. There is no feeling of gradually increasing stakes or tension or danger. The villain mostly just wants to hang out and talk endlessly about nothing. The scenes are a series of disjointed vignettes that don’t flow together the way a narrative should. The vast majority of these scenes are of one person talking to another very slowly, with minimal music or cinematic flair. The camera just holding still on these character as they talk endlessly about nothing. The way it is filmed is so incredibly lacking in energy and so totally void of any sense of being cinematic. Everyone and everything in this is on autopilot.
* The whole thing is just so goddamn uneven- The set design is awesome. Some of the visual stuff is fantastic (but some of it is terrible). The cast is fun (but they don’t get any good characters or dialogue to sink their teeth into). There are some really beautiful women in it (but the same could be said for a lot of things that are actually good).
There are some cool ideas (on a visual level I adored the shot of the female lead accompanied by the ghost in the asylum and in the diner) but like everything in the film none of them really get off the ground. There are some amusing jokes (but there are many painfully unfunny ones). Some of the subplots seemed like they would potential (but are then abandoned randomly).
* It’s just not watchable- I don’t care how poorly executed a movie is as long as it has a sense of watchability. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, for example, is a BULLSH*T movie, ranked on IMDB’s list of the worst films ever made, and yet I watch it again and again because it doesn’t bore me. It’s crap, and I KNOW it’s crap, but it doesn’t bore me for one second. I enjoy it’s crappiness. A bit like Freddy VS Jason. I f*cking love that movie. I’ve seen it at least a dozen times. If Dark Shadows was gonna be crap, it should at least be a guilty pleasure, or so-bad-it’s-good or something. But this is just so-bad-that-it’s-really-embarrassing-watching-it.
… Look, there’s a billion other things I could talk about, but I’m just gonna stop here. This is a SH*T movie. Like, I don’t know if ‘Deer’ would agree with me on just HOW bad it was, but for me this wasn’t just an ordinary bad movie. It went on to indeed being one of the least engaging movies I’ve sat through start-to-finish in a cinema in years. So bad that I would’ve walked out if I had been watching it alone. And it sucks, cos I LOVE the premise, I LOVE the whole “The Addams Family” vibe, I LOVE a lot of the set design. But these elements are put into a film which is just such a total non-starter. It’s just a goddamn shame.
I really hope the upcoming Frankenweenie reboot is a return to form for Tim Burton, because he has down some really cool films before. A lot of critics are using this to retroactively attack all of Burton’s work over the past decade, but all of that stuff (even Alice in Wonderland) is so much easier to swallow than this film, in my opinion.
- One Star