Tim Burton (the director) is best known for his dark-themed movies and this film itself has the dark word in the title. He is also well-known for starring Johnny Depp as the main character in most of his features (Depp has starred in a total of 8 pictures shot by Burton). Burton also directed Alice in Wonderland which is the 11th highest-grossing movie of all time.
I haven't watched many of his films but Edward Scissorhands (which launched Depp's career) is my favourite of his. Dark Shadows was written by Seth-Grahame Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) with a story by him and John August.
DS is a typical Burton film although you could guess that by the poster and trailer. Eerie settings and witty dialogues all play homage to his originality. Depp plays Collins unsurprisingly to the depth. And the co-stars also play their roles well. Apart from the acting, the best part is Depp's reactions to the changed American town. That quirkiness saved the feature from utter disappointment. Furthermore, the lines are brilliantly written and the America of the 70s is actually quite well depicted by Burton who usually lets his own gloominess rule the settings.
However, the film has its cons. None of the other characters are fully exploited. The plot does not have a particular storyline and you wonder whether there are several distinct episodes of a series being played at random. And the end is not too unpredictable. There is not much depth showcased in the story and this leaves it unbalanced.
Second-best performance was by French actress Eva Green who really brought out the psycho in her hopeless romantic demeanour. She was sexy and seductive and rightfully cast outshining the other lady thespians.
Also, being a horror comedy this is much more focused on horror than comedy and never fighting the right equilibrium for the two. It co-stars Eva Green (the ex-lover), veteran Michelle Pfeiffer, Burton's wife Helena Bonham Carter, Jackie Earle Hayley and Bella Heathcote.
Finally, Dark Shadows was released with The Avengers and due to that competition the Burton film amounted to a final theatrical cumulative of $238.5m off $148m although it should've made a more decent $400m. DS is not the best of vampire movies and I favour last year's Fright Night remake over it but it's also not the worst.
Roger Ebert (Top Critic): 2.5/4.