Story

The year is 1752, and young Barnabas Collins and his parents set sail from Liverpool in England for America. The family thrives in America, becoming fishing magnates with a fishing port named after them. But when Barnabas (Johnny Depp) rejects a servant girl, Angelique (Eva Green), in favour of Josette DuPres, a beautiful woman of high standing, his world falls apart. It turns out that Angelique is a witch. She takes her revenge against Barnabas by killing his parents and Josette and turning Barnabas into a vampire. Angelique then entices the local villagers to riot, and Barnabas is buried in a chained coffin for eternity.

Over 200 years later, Barnabas’s luck changes when workmen accidentally dig up his coffin and release him from his prison. Barnabas returns to his family mansion where he finds the estate in ruins. The remaining members of the Collins dynasty, headed by Elizabeth Collins (Michelle Pfeiffer), are so dysfunctional that they need the services of a live-in psychiatrist (Helena Bonham Carter).

Barnabas moves in with his family and vows to return the Collins empire to its former glory. But his plans are thrown into turmoil when new governess Victoria (Bella Heathcote) turns out to be the reincarnation of Josette. Meanwhile Angelique is still very much alive and determined to ruin Barnabas and his family.

Themes

Vampires; the supernatural; revenge

Violence

Dark Shadows has scenes with horror violence. These are often played for comedy and include medium-level blood and gore. For example:

  • A woman falls from a high cliff on to rocks and lies face down in the ocean. The scene shows no blood and gore, and we don’t see her body hit the rocks. Barnabas jumps from a high cliff and falls on to the rocks too. Barnabas gets up and doesn’t seem hurt, but he has blood running from his eyes as through he’s crying blood.
  • After workmen unearth his coffin and release Barnabas, he goes on a killing frenzy. He throws men through the air and slams them into trucks and machinery. He has blood covering his mouth, fangs, chin, hands and clothes. He lifts a man up into the air and bites into his neck. Blood pours on to the ground below.
  • After Angelique does a spell, a large factory explodes in flames.
  • Barnabas is shot in the back. There are several bloody bullet holes in his back, but he doesn’t seem hurt.
  • In an extended fight between Angelique and the Collins family, Barnabas and Angelique throw each other around like rag dolls. Barnabas throws Angelique through the ceiling into the room above. Barnabas bites Angelique on the neck, leaving two puncture wounds on her neck. Angelique is shot with a shotgun, which leaves bloodless wounds that appear to have no effect on her.
  • During a fight between Angelique and a young female werewolf, Angelique uses magical force to hurl the girl across a large room.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight years. For example:

  • When Barnabas first changes into a vampire, he bleeds from the eyes and his hands turn into long black claws. When he opens his mouth, he has long white fangs. As a vampire Barnabas has powder-like skin and dark sunken eyes. At times he moves with supernatural speed and strength.
  • The movie shows several images of a female ghost in a shimmering flowing dress. In one scene she seems to be underwater. A ghost crab crawls out of her mouth and across her face.
  • During one extended scene Angelique takes on a china doll-like appearance. Her face cracks as Barnabas hits her. Her arms and legs bend in strange ways, and there is the sound of bones cracking.
  • One scene shows Angelique crucified on a giant fallen chandelier. She pushes her hand into her chest and pulls out her beating heart. It looks like it’s made of glass and crumbles to dust. Part of Angelique’s face also crumbles away.
  • A teenage girl partially changes into a wolf. Her legs look like a wolf’s, and she has a hairy wolf-like face with a mouth full of sharp teeth.
  • Giant wooden snakes carved into a banister magically come to life and attack a woman. Large threatening wooden statues also come to life and attack the Collins family.
  • Angelique flicks a long forked tongue out of her mouth when she kisses Barnabas.
  • A 10-year-old girl is taken in an ambulance. The next time we see her she is in a padded cell wearing a straightjacket. Later, the same girl is gagged and strapped to a table while getting shock treatment.
  • A woman lies on a bed getting a blood transfusion. Barnabas pins the woman against a wall and bites into her neck. The bag filled with blood empties as he drains the woman of her blood. Later he dumps her body in the ocean. 

From 8-13

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above. 

Over 13

Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above. 

Sexual references

This movie has a few covert and overt sexual references and innuendoes. For example:

  • A young boy tells a group of people that his teenage sister ‘touches herself’ and makes noises like a cat.
  • A man tells a woman to keep her panties on. This is a way of saying she should be patient. The woman replies, ‘I’ll try’.
  • Angelique talks about having ‘lots of fun’ on a desk and in a lounge chair with Barnabas.
  • Barnabas talks about sucking from a woman’s diseased teat.
  • A woman tells Barnabas that they could make little fish together.
  • When Angelique rips open the front of her dress to show her breasts, Barnabas says, ‘Those haven’t aged a day’. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

This movie shows some use of substances. For example:

  • Men and women smoke cigarettes.
  • Men and women drink wine and spirits with meals (and breakfast), at parties and in bars.
  • Dr Julia Hoffman is described as always being drunk and hung over. She is always drinking and acting in a slightly drunk way. One time she takes prescription drugs, which she washes down with scotch.
  • Characters smoke marijuana. 

Nudity and sexual activity

This movie has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • Barnabas passionately kisses young women on the lips.
  • Women wear low-cut tops. In one scene Angelique wears an evening gown with an extremely low-cut top. It is designed to show as much cleavage as possible.
  • While alone with Barnabas, a female doctor asks him if he understands what doctor–patient confidentiality means. Then she kneels down in front of him.
  • Angelique rips open the front of her dress to show her partially covered breasts to Barnabas. She lies down on a couch in a seductive way. They kiss passionately while rolling around on the floor, ceiling and walls. They smash a lot of furniture and rip each other’s clothing, although they stay partially clothed.
  • Female pole dancers wearing very short miniskirts dance in cages at a party.
  • Barnabas is bound and chained and lying in a coffin. Angelique wears a long evening gown. She takes off her underpants and drapes them across Barnabas’s face. 

Product placement

None of concern 

Coarse language

This movie has some coarse language, put-downs and name-calling. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

Dark Shadows is directed by Tim Burton. It’s a comedy fantasy that targets older teenagers and adults. The movie is typical of Tim Burton and has lots of dark shadows, heavy make-up and gothic design. It is too scary for children under 13, with some scenes that might also disturb slightly older teenagers. It contains sexual references and sex scenes that you might not want your children to see.

The main message from this movie is that family and true love are the most important things in life.

You might want to talk with your children about Barnabas’s attitude towards women and relationships. Barnabas says that he only wants true love with one woman, but has casual sexual encounters.