This Week at the Movies

Both Tim Burton's 'Dark Shadows' and Filipino thriller 'The Road' are amusing, but uneven.

Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows" starts out so energetically and maintains a darkly comedic vibe through at least half of its proceedings that it's a disappointment when it eventually resorts to genre cliches in its final third.

The film, based on Dan Curtis's late 1960s show of the same name, is obviously a labor of love for Burton and star Johnny Depp, who are both said to be huge fans of the original show.

Although the picture's tone occasionally wobbles between the type of kooky humor we've come to expect from Burton and Depp and something slightly darker, the filmmaking team behind "Dark Shadows" scores in the art direction department.

Collinwood Manor is depicted as a creepy piece of architecture atop a hill in a small Maine fishing town. Burton also nails the 1970s period details without overdoing it.

In the film, Barnabas Collins (Depp) is a young man in the 1700s whose beloved is thrown off a cliff by witch Angelique (Eva Green), whom Collins has spurned. He is then cursed to be a vampire and buried alive in a coffin, where he remains for 200 years.

Barnabas awakens in 1972 and discovers that his family's fishing business and mansion have both fallen on hard times. Collinwood Manor is now occupied by matriarch Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer), daughter Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz), a live-in doctor (Helena Bonham Carter) and several other despondent individuals.

Barnabas decides to save the family business, which is being threatened by none other than Angelique, who has taken over the town's fishing industry.

Depp gives an inspired performance as Barnabas and much of the film's humor comes from his complete failure to understand the era in which he is now living.
But the film takes an unfortunate turn in its final act that includes explosions, fight scenes and a lot of special effects. A few plot twists, none of which are particularly necessary, are also revealed.

"Dark Shadows" is often amusing, but ultimately uneven.

Yam Laranas's "The Road" is a cause for celebration as it is the rare Filipino movie to screen in U.S. theaters. So, it's a shame that the horror movie is a mixed bag.

The picture tells three related stories about spooky goings-on along a deserted road, beginning in 2008, jumping back 10 years and culminating in 1988.

In the first story, a group of teens are pursued by a driverless car along the abandoned stretch of road, while in the second tale two young women run into a disturbed youth in the same spot.

In the final story, a young boy is tormented by the fighting between his bitter mother and religious father.

All three stories eventually cross at the film's ending, but too many questions are left unanswered for "The Road" to ultimately be effective.

It does, however, provide a few genuine scares, especially in the first story as the trio of teens take a creepy night drive down the road.

Much like "Dark Shadows," Laranas's film includes a few solid acts that are undone by some poor storytelling decisions.

"Dark Shadows" is playing at Douglaston's Movie World and "The Road" is screening at Main Street Cinemas in Kew Gardens Hills.


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