Dark Shadows (2012)

Dark Shadows

Release Date: May 11, 2012

Director: Tim Burton

Stars: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green

Runtime: 113 min

Tagline: Every family has its demons

It’s the year 1752, and Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) and his family had just set sail to America, in search of a greater life. Though, they could not escape the mysterious curse that was placed upon his family. Skip two decades, to where Barnabas is the head of Collinwood Manor, but he makes the mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), a maid who’s really a witch. When Barnabas would not love her in return, she placed a curse upon him to turn into a vampire when he dies, so he will have to live for eternity, knowing that his one true love is dead. Skip two centuries, and Barnabas is just waking up from his dirt nap after being trapped inside of a coffin. He makes his way back to Collinwood Manor, and he offers a little support to his descendants, while Angelique still roams the earth…

Dark Shadows is based on a late 60s to early 70s TV show of the same name. This is also the eighth Tim Burton-Johnny Depp vehicle, and it isn’t very good. The Burton-Depp team has brought us great films like Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow and Sweeney Todd; but they have also brought us bad films like the just okay Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the apparently disappointing Alice in Wonderland. Can you figure out which side it belongs on? It belongs on the bad side. If Shadows were to stand on its own two feet, it isn’t impressive or groundbreaking at all, and if it were to stand with the seven other Burton-Depp vehicles, it would just be awful. Burton has been known for his dark material in films and that signature over-the-topness, and this one is certainly over-the-top, but not in a very good way.

It tries to be funny, and fails. It tries to be fantastic, and fails. There are only one or two pretty good jokes, but the majority of them are big misses. There are some scenes that were meant to be action packed, but they felt really quite boring. They were over the top, but not in the great way we want Burton’s flicks to be. It feels more like a newcomer to the directing game who is experimenting with his options.

The whole vampire love story is getting so old, it’s just about been sucked to death (and brought back to life five times) by the Twilight series. It’s certainly better than the Twilight series, but not by a whole lot. There are some pleasant twists thrown at the audience, that some viewers will like, but most may say, “That’s so ridiculous, I should have saw that one coming.” The story is just a bit too uninteresting to carry itself well enough throughout the entire 113 minutes. It was a giant chore to watch. The acting is okay, and really the only interesting characters are Barnabas (Depp), David (Gulliver McGrath) and Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz). The cast is certainly attractive, but some of them don’t offer their usual chops to the table (excluding Depp and Moretz, the rest are just average).

Dark Shadows has a pretty uninteresting plot and a vampire premise that has highly been worn out, only a few likeable characters that can be counted on one hand, and a generally boring endeavour from the Burton/Depp union.

40/100

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Silent House (2012)

Silent House

Release Date: March 9, 2012

Director: Chris Kentis, Laura Lau

Stars: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens

Runtime: 86 min

Tagline: Inspired by true events.

Yet another film sucked me in by the whole ‘inspired by true events’ pitch.

Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) and her father, John (Adam Trese), are renovating their family’s lakeside retreat for resale. Abruptly, Sarah is unable to find her father, and she finds herself trapped in her home. She soon realizes she cannot contact the outside world, as events become increasingly ominous in and around the house.

Silent House offers an okay ride, that has a mediocrely slow build-up that ultimately leads to an extremely moronic and unrewarding ending.

Apparently, this is based on true events that occurred in a small Uruguayan village in the 1940s, and the fact that this actually happened is admittedly a little twisted and eerie. Silent House is a remake of a 2010 Uruguay horror film called La Casa Muda (The Silent House), and the story was originally adapted by Gustavo Hernández. The fact that this film had to be directed by two people feels a little ridiculous to me, because I really don’t understand the purpose of doing that.

The build-up is pretty good, it’s sometimes a little slow – but it can also be pretty thrilling. There’s a fair share of good scenes mixed in here, but the bad ones outweigh those that are good. A big problem with this flick is that it thinks it’s much smarter than it actually is, and by the end of it, a lot of the material doesn’t make a lot of sense. Some of the happenings are extremely ominous, eerie, and mysterious, so that makes for a nice atmosphere for the viewer. Sometimes the film can be extremely ridiculous, because the happenings are just so abrupt and arbitrary that it made me think, “Whoa! Where the heck did that come from?”

There isn’t a whole lot of gore here, so it’s much more a psychological ride than anything else. It’s not a film I regret seeing because there a few redeeming qualities, but there isn’t anything extremely special. The whole convenience of the house not having power, AND the home being all boarded up,  felt extremely clichéd and odd. The panicky performance given by Elizabeth Olsen is pretty fine. It’s not like her character’s a dumb bimbo or anything, because some of her decisions are pretty logical. It’s the decisions of some of the other characters that often feel quite illogical. The continuous take makes a fairly unique experience for a horror film (well, it was shot in ten-minute takes, which in turn makes the editing impressive), and the fact that it was shot in real time makes it unique, too. The cinematography is really rough; it reminded me of The Blair Witch Project, because the cameraman just follows the characters around, I’m convinced he (or she) had a wicked case of the shakes during shooting. The characters are decent for a horror film, but some of their actions don’t make the most sense.

The film stars Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Julia Taylor Ross, Adam Barnett, and Haley Murphy.

Silent House offers an okay psychological ride, an okay story, and a unique real time experience. The play-out can be a little slow, and the film has the ability to easily, and unintentionally, confuse its audience. I won’t return to this film, because the ending was extremely unrewarding. There are a lot of other psychological horror thrillers that can satisfy more than this, so you won’t miss a whole lot if you decide to skip it. It’s one of those movies that I could recommend if you found it on TV and there was nothing else on.

40/100