On paper, Dark Shadows looked like a sure fire hit. Tim Burton directing, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter teaming up on screen once more, Chloe Moretz lending an air of 'cute' to the cast. What could possibly go wrong? Add to that the fact that the movie's based on a popular gothic soap opera from the 1960s and '70s. it was all looking so promising.
The outcome of recent reviews, however, suggests that the classic Burton-Depp-Bonham Carter triangle of success may be losing its sheen. With or without the added charm of Chloe Grace Moretz. And Michelle Pfeiffer. And Jonny Lee Miller. So far, though, the reviews that have been collated on Rotten Tomatoes have landed the film's rating at a thoroughly average 50 per cent. Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun-Times, was critical of Burton's hand in the movie, saying "It offers wonderful things, but they aren't what's important. It's as if Burton directed at arm's length, unwilling to find juice in the story." Todd MCCarthy's review for Hollywood Reporter took a similar tack, saying "Dark Shadows sinks its teeth half-way into its potentially meaty material but hesitates to go all the way." The Village Voice review was more damning, describing the adaptation as "Less a resurrection than a clumsy desecration."
On the positive side, the New York Times Review - whilst recognizing that it isn't perhaps one of Burton's strongest efforts - says the film is "very enjoyable, visually sumptuous and, despite its lugubrious source material and a sporadic tremor of violence, surprisingly effervescent." Equally, Empire magazine advises the viewer not to expect quite as much comedy as the trailer suggests: "Instead, it cleaves closer to what you expect from Burton: darkness, quirk and Johnny Depp on great form."