Despite being dark and gothic, it’s been a long time since a Tim Burton movie has actually scared anyone, but something in his latest effort struck terror in the Brothers Warner because they delayed screening it to reviewers till the last possible moment.

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So what is the latest Burton film like? Well, it’s dark and gothic, innit, just like all the other ones; and in much the same shades of dark and gothic as all the others too. The only variation in his films is the material on the receiving end of the Burton makeover.

This time it is a 1960s US daytime soap opera that from YouTube clips seems to have been a meeting of Crossroad production values and Addams Family costumes.

A 1,225-episode soap opera is a tricky adaptation problem and Burton’s approach is basically to do it as a fancy dress ball.

There is a grand melodramatic story and attempts at comedy but all the film really seems activated by is the idea of dressing everyone up and have them ham it up as their favourite character.

There are a few peripheral pleasures to be found in the fixtures and fittings but for the most part it is an entirely stagnant piece of work, so bereft of new ideas it goes looking to Death Becomes Her for inspiration.

The idea for the film came from Johnny Depp himself and this is his eighth collaboration with Burton.

Some day perhaps we will learn what kind of kick they get from having him play ever whiter characters with English accents.

Still, at least Depp is still getting a kick out of it; his performance as Barnabus Collins, a vampire who was chained in a coffin for two centuries by a spurned lover, is the only thing in the film that really works.

DARK SHADOWS (12A)

Director: Tim Burton

Starring: Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Chloe Grace Moretz and Jonny Lee Miller

Length: 113 mins

**

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