Dark Shadows

Not even a cameo from rock 'n' roll royalty can rescue this humdrum slice of 'homedy'

An original score from Danny Elfman? Check. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in the cast? Check. Kooky Gothic subject matter? Check. That sounds like another Tim Burton movie to us...

A reimagining of the '60s/'70s supernaturally-tinged TV soap of the same name, Dark Shadows is a curious concoction – the best way to describe it as a 1970s-set horror comedy (similar, perhaps, to Burton's earlier Sleepy Hollow), but that doesn't tell half the story.

This tale drifts from one style to another, mixing eerie ghost story tropes with deadpan gags straight out of the Naked Gun movies. Depp, in the role of a vampire baffled by the changes in society after 200 years locked in a coffin is, as usual, brilliant, but the plot is so slight that there's little to grab your attention beyond his acting (and the rest of the impressive cast) and the luscious set design. Oh, and a cameo from Alice Cooper...

Picture: Dark Shadows has its fair share of dark scenes, as you'd expect, and Warner Home Video's 1.78:1 AVC Full HD encode isn't bothered by these in the slightest – helped by Burton's preference for eschewing the crushed blacks and ramped contrast levels of many other modern flicks. Rather, he opts for a natural-looking palette, delivered well here, with certain colours (such as the red hair of Bonham Carter's character) picked out to add to the film's Gothic flavour. Elsewhere, detail levels are on occasion frighteningly sharp (especially during the on-location daylight sequences), with only some deliberately diffuse lighting, and VFX shots, softening a few sequences. Overall, this is a solid transfer.
Picture rating: 4.5/5

Audio: The sound design is perhaps the most impressive aspect of this Blu-ray release, with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that majors on excellent Foley reproduction and sweet musicality – although with the latter it's not Elfman's forgettable score that really sings, but the '70s rock and funk songs that Burton peppers the soundtrack with. Dialogue delivery is uniformly excellent and the climactic final act is where your subwoofer gets a chance to shine.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: This $150m mess of a movie is crying out for a behind-the-scenes Making of... documentary to help us understand exactly how it ended up the way it is. But you don't get one. Instead, Warner's single-disc BD release serves up five deleted scenes (all in HD) and a collection of nine brief featurettes, which can be watched as Picture-in-Picture content during the movie or individually – none offer much substance. You also get an UltraViolet copy.
Extras rating: 2/5

We say: A passable slice of the Burtonesque served up on a solid hi-def platter

Warner Home Video, All-region BD, £25 Approx, On sale now