Iffy for 13+
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.
- 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?
The good stuff
Messages: Dark Shadows has a narrated introduction about how important family is, and there's a takeaway about avoiding the "curse" of a loveless life, but these themes aren't conveyed strongly. Basically, It's a one-man show, with Barnabas taking center stage and rarely turning to his family or helping them with anything. The other family members appear to despise one another. An uncle chooses to leave his son in exchange for money. And in general, problems are solved through violence.
Role models: Barnabas' behavior is supposed to be based on love, and he's funny and charming (for a vampire), but his actions aren't admirable -- they're mostly mean-spirited and violent. None of the supporting characters offer anything admirable, either.
What to watch for
Violence: The movie's mood is comic, so none of the violence has a heavy impact; but there are also no notable consequences for the killings -- and there are a lot of them, with lots of blood (which seems to have been deliberately colored to resemble the fake-looking TV blood of the 1960s). Most characters die off screen. The movie's climax includes a special effects-heavy supernatural fight between characters (including a stream of green vomit) but little brutality. In a flashback, parents ship a little girl off to an asylum because she sees ghosts; there are some potentially upsetting shots of her locked up in a cell and receiving electroshock treatment. Also some spooky ghosts and an explosion/fire.
Sex: Plenty of innuendo (references to touching oneself, making noises, etc.) and some passionate kissing, but no nudity. Barnabas kisses or has sexual encounters with three women (four if you count that the same actress plays women of two different eras). He has supernatural "sex" with a witch: Locked in an embrace (and still clothed), they crash all over the walls and ceiling of a room. A female character lowers her face, off screen, to the main character's crotch to (presumably) give him oral sex. A woman rips off her top to reveal her cleavage and places Barnabas' hand on her (covered) breasts. Also of note is the way in which 15-year-old actress Chloe Grace Moretz is sexualized in her scenes, posing or dancing sensually or reciting dialogue in a sexy way.
Language: "S--t" is used a couple of times; "bitch," "damn," "a--hole," "hell," "bastard," "whore," "oh my God," and "balls" are also used. There's also a range of insults, including "stupid," "harlot," succubus," etc.
Consumerism: When Barnabas emerges from his coffin, he's entranced by a giant "McDonald's" sign. There are lots of references to 1970s-era products, some of which are still around today -- there's a Wheaties cereal box, toys like Operation and Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots, and a "troll" doll. Scooby-Doo is shown on television.
Drinking, drugs and smoking: A supporting character is shown to have a drinking problem. It's treated comically, but she's drinking and belligerent in nearly every scene. She also pops some kind of prescription pill. Another supporting character is shown slobbering drunk in one scene. Barnabas is around a group of hippies who smoke pot. A 15-year-old girl is involved in a joke about being "stoned" (shown in the trailer), in which Barnabas misunderstands the meaning of the term.
Fan Reviews provided by
3 generations loved it! by wmorris3434
Grandma, son and grandson all really enjoyed this movie! Tongue-in-cheek funny, good storyline, not too dark like most Tim Burton movies tend to be, and great cast and just a fun time overall!
Johnny Depp Does it Again! by shari13903
Dark Shadows is a dramatic comedy that holds the audience's attention throughout the entire movie. Johnny Depp is masterful in portraying both the emotional angst of his character and the comedic confusion of a "man" out of his era. The rest of the cast are just as talented and each character has his or her own unique quirks and personality. This is definitely a movie worth the price of admission.
I "Liked" It! by elfinalia
I found Johnny Depp as Barnabas to be absolutely delightful. Why? Because he played the role with dignity just like Jonathan Frid did. I "LOVED" the tv serial. It was played with Camp, at times so funny because it was live and something would happen but those particular actors didn't miss a beat! I thought they captured that in DARK SHADOWS the movie although it got pretty silly at the end. But, like always, Johnny/Barnabas got his girl! I think all the actors and the production were great.
Dark Shadows by Gotoell4pop
5 of us attended the movie together last night, and we all loved it!
Depp and Burton haven't lost their touch one bit! Bravo !
I intend to go see this one again.
Acting was superb, the cinematography was eye popping good, over all it was well worth paying full price to go see.
Not worth seeing! by Idelarocha
This movie has its stupid funny jokes moment but aside from that its not worth seeing.
Johnny Depp is known for his uniqueness but this movie didn't do him any justice.
Litte Vampire is better than this movie.
It can't decide what it is and misses the mark anyway... by Nittany Fan
Let me start by saying I love most everything Johnny Depp does but in this case it was a swing and a miss. It's not quite funny enough to be funny, not quite scary enough to be scary, not quite campy enough to be campy and not quite parody enough to be parody.
I usually look for a greater commitment from Johhny Depp but this one feels sort of half-hearted in too many directions. It just can't make up it's mind what it is. Add to this that you never feel enough connection to any one character in the film to care. The spectacular attempt at a close to the film falls flat.
The first half offers some levity playing the centuries old main character against a world that has passed him by but is not enough to save the film in my opinion. By the time you reach the end scenes in this story you just don't care enough to feel invested in the outcome.
Sorry Johnny, this one is a fail if you ask me...
Burton and Depp Channel "Edward Scissorhands" 22 Years Later. by Alon Patterson
This one definitely ranks up there with Burton's best. Call it "Edward Scissorhands" for a new generation. Who'd have imagined anyone could breathe new life (or death) into that old "Dark Shadows" afternoon soap opera? Fun, macabre, and downright charming, this movie's a solid feature that camps today's "cookie cutter" image of vampirism and then some. If you're looking for an entertaining film well worth its ticket price, this is it. You won't be disappointed.
Dark Shadows is a cutsie remake by johnstonsally1960
Every Dark Shadows Fan will wanna go see this film, just because. The best scenes are in the beginning while they are telling the back story, but that was true with the original series too... Depp gives a cutsie flair to his interpritation of Frids Barnabus Collins, but it somehow works for this film.
But one thing this film did do is make this Dark Shadows fan hungry for is a really GREAT remake of the TV series to feed us die hard Barnabus Fans weekly at home!!!!
Dark Shadows by mary57
This movie was a bit of a disappointment. Johnny Depp gives another great performance but the movie drags a bit and all the very best parts were seen in the trailers. The daughter turned werewolf was out of left field and too over the top and the ending was campy and predictable.
Worth seeing but probably just as good at home by ColoDude
I thought the movie was pretty good. A lot of subtle humor that aparently many of the folks in the theater I was at didn't quite get. There were no gut-busting moments but a lot of good chuckles. They don't really show any actual killing or sexual acts, they are merely implied but implied very well. I liked this aspect of the movie, a change from the norm it seems. Depp was dead on in his art as he seems to be pretty much all the time now. I liked that Michelle Pfeiffer was in this flick, but came away feeling like she had just gone through the motions and maybe wasn't that into the role. I'm not saying she was bad, just that it felt like she wasn't as committed as she usually is. The storylline was great, well written and easy to follow. Each scene made sense, no quantum leaps in the story to leave me wondering what happened. Overall it was a good movie and was fun to watch, but I'm not raving with excitement about it.