Original review featured on the Doha Film Institute website.
The Burton-Depp sense of exotic humor is back once again, making a return after ‘Alice in Wonderland’ to hypnotize us with a vampire tale.
Imagine a man from the 17th century landing in 1972. Now imagine that man is Johnny Depp in a Tim Burton film… need I say more?
Based on the 1966-1971 soap opera of the same name, Depp finally realizes his dream of incarnating the role of Barnabas Collins, a 200-year old vampire. He returns to the age of rock and roll and hippie nonchalance to re-establish the once very successful family business. But an old affair- with a now powerful witch- isn’t about to let some ‘noble’ blood-thirsty ruin her fish kingdom. If you think our intro is absurd, wait till you watch the film.
The film goes back to 1760, when the Collins’ established Collinsport, a flourishing fishing port. They worked very hard on their family trade but gave their son Barnabas a very precious piece of advice; the greatest fortune of all is family. The wealthy young man grows up to become a Don Juan, breaking some hearts on the way including that of the aforementioned witch, the Collins’s servant Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). When he finds his own true love, Josette DuPres, Angelique in an act of jealousy puts a spell on her rival, forcing her to jump from ‘Widow’s Peak’. Baranbas meanwhile is doomed to suffer for eternity as a vampire. Angelique then turns the town against him, and he is buried alive in a chained coffin.
Two decades later he is accidentally released, only to find a troubled and financially ruined extended family. However Angelique was living happily covered in wealth and beauty.
History repeats itself in a different era, and the conflict is back on fire between the two former lovers. Baranbas’s priority is to bring back the glory of his family history, while Angelique is obsessed with power at any cost. It gets even better now that she has a new rival who stole Baranbas heart away; Victoria (Bella Heathcote) who recently moved to the castle as a governess of the orphaned David Collins (Gulliver McGrath).
Besides the absolutely gorgeous 70’s ‘free look’ apparel, versus the stark black gothic persona, the outcome is “Shakespeare in the Park” (borrowed from ‘The Avengers’), with the 1967 Moody Blue’s hit ‘Nights in White Satin’ in the intro. The dialogue is Shakespeare meeting Alice Cooper, literally.
Recent reviews have been a bit harsh on the film, but guess what? It’s a lot of fun. The film is now playing in Doha, a great way to start the weekend.