Cut to 1972: construction workers unwittingly unearth Barnabas, and he returns to his family estate to find it disheveled, the Collins name tarnished and their seafood business a shell of what it once was -- in large part because the seemingly immortal Angelique has spent the past 200 years building a rival fishing business that has run them into the ground. Family matriarch Elizabeth Collins (Michelle Pfeiffer) recognizes Barnabas and soon comes to believe his claim of being a vampire, but she tells the rest of the clan -- daughter Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz), brother Roger (Jonny Lee Miller), his son David (Gulliver McGrath), David's psychiatrist Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter) and caretaker Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley) -- that he's a relative visiting from England.
Barnabas' arrival coincides with that of Victoria Winters, a young woman who shows up in response to a want ad for a new governess for David. Barnabas is immediately struck by her resemblance to Josette, and he determines to find a way to woo her, despite his comical ignorance of the conventions of the age. But the centuries haven't erased Angelique's jealous streak, and it doesn't take long for her to set her sights on Barnabas and his new love.
The End Result
That said, Depp brings the uneven material to life, glossing over the hollow moments with charm and total commitment to his clichéd but endearing fish-out-of-water shenanigans. Green matches his energy, stealing many of her scenes, while the remainder of the excellent cast is sadly underutilized, largely playing straight men to the protagonist-antagonist duo.
Fans of the original TV show probably won't appreciate the spoof-ish nature of this adaptation -- a goofier, more comedic approach than Depp and Burton's previous horror-comedy collaboration Sleepy Hollow -- a tone that undermines the moments when the story attempts to play things serious. While Burton might catch a large portion of the flack for Dark Shadow's shortcomings, it feels like more of a script issue. The film's colorful, '70s soft-focus look is attractive -- much more so than the eye-hemorrhaging Alice in Wonderland -- and despite some flat jokes and the failed attempts at drama, the lighthearted air is likable and reminds us of why we keep eating up these Depp-Burton pics.