Dark Shadows is a 2012 American fantasy horror comedy film directed by Tim Burton. This is the feature film adaptation of the American television series Dark Shadows by Dan Curtis, which aired from 1966 to 1971 on ABC. It was directed by Tim Burton and starred Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Bella Heathcote in a dual role.
The ending of Dark Shadows might be a bit confusing for people, which is why we decided to explain what actually happened at the end of the movie. We are going to analyze the narrative elements of the story, as well as the meaning of the final scene, and how it all connects to the overall narrative of the movie.
What happens in Dark Shadows?
1760. The Collins English aristocratic family with their only son Barnabas leaves Liverpool for the Thirteen Colonies to expand their business empire. When they reached Maine, they built a house they called Collinwood and founded a fish company that expanded into a small town, Collinsport. Barnabas grows up and, although educated according to sound principles, becomes a bold boy and a true playboy.
However, when he seduces and abandons Angelique Bouchard, a maid serving at his mansion, the latter begins in revenge to destroy his life through the use of black magic. Angelique, in fact, will cause a series of misfortunes: the death of her parents and the suicide of Josette, Barnabas’s girlfriend, who inexplicably lets herself fall from a cliff.
Pain afflicts Barnabas to such an extent that he too throws himself, falling beside his lifeless beloved. Barnabas, inexplicably unharmed, reopens his eyes to discover that Angelique had punished him with immortality, turning him into a vampire, and then instigated against him the peasants of Collinsport who bury him alive in a coffin.
Two hundred twelve years later, in 1972, Barnabas is accidentally freed from his grave and, returning to his villa, finds that his property has fallen into disrepair. Here he meets his four descendants, the two servants, a slightly extravagant doctor in the service of the family, and Victoria, a governess identical to Josette (whose real name is Maggie Evans) with whom Barnabas falls in love.
Elizabeth, who runs the house with her brother Roger, explains to Barnabas the family vicissitudes over the years that her ancestor spent in the coffin: the fishing company founded by Barnabas’s father is on the verge of bankruptcy due to AngelBay, an opposing company founded and run by the witch Angelique who, also being immortal, managed by leading a fierce competition aimed at destroying the financial well-being of the Collins.
Barnabas then decides to bring Collinswood and the fish company back to their former glory, unleashing Angelique’s anger, who tries to convince Barnabas to sell him the company but in vain, however, the latter falls victim to Angelique’s charm again, in fact, the two they will end up making love. Angelique wants and demands Barnabas’ love, offering him in exchange to join forces and companies, but he firmly refuses.
Meanwhile, he knows Victoria better and falls in love more and more with her and with her kind soul. Doctor Julia, meanwhile, uncovers the truth by hypnotizing Barnabas, but speaking to Elizabeth she decides to stay there and tries to help him find a way to return to a human by giving him transfusions and removing her blood.
On one occasion Julia, fascinated by the vampire and flattered by a compliment from her, seduces him by giving him oral sex. However, Barnabas later discovers that Julia was having transfusions with the vampire’s blood to become like him, in order to stay young forever: Barnabas, disappointed in her, kills her after bleeding her to death.
Barnabas discovers that Roger is looking for the secret passageway shown by him to Elizabeth upon his arrival, containing the wealth of the Collins family, and forces him to make a choice: to stay and be a worthy father figure to David, whom Barnabas has grown fond of, or leave with enough money to live peacefully for the rest of his life. Roger chooses to leave.
How does Dark Shadows end?
Eventually, the rivalry between Barnabas and Angelique continues until Angelique records a confession from Barnabas, who claims he killed many people to drink their blood, and traps Barnabas again in a coffin. The vampire, however, is freed by David and Angelique arrives in Collinswood bringing the police and a crowd of curious citizens, where a clash between the two ‘monsters’ takes place.
The crowd also discovers Angelique’s nature as well as Barnabas’s, so the police chief sends everyone away, including his men, believing it to be a hoax. It turns out that Angelique sent a werewolf to bite Carolyn when she was still in diapers, to turn her into a werewolf herself, and that David’s mother died in a shipwreck.
The Collins villa is destroyed and Angelique, defeated, is confronted one last time by Barnabas: she declares her love to him, but he, after everything she has done to him after his refusal, explains to her that the truth is that she is unable to love anyone; to prove to him that he is wrong about her, Angelique literally offers him her heart, but he refuses again and so she dies but sends Victoria to the cliff where Josette had died.
Barnabas arrives just in time to fall off the cliff with her, and, to prevent her fall from killing her, he bites her, transforming her into a vampire. Meanwhile, Dr. Hoffman, thrown by Barnabas into the ocean, turns into a vampire.
Who died and who survived in Dark Shadows?
Tim Burton said that his adaptation of Dark Shadows had a more soap opera structure to it than anything else. This is undoubtedly reflected in the narrative itself, as it is quite clear that the dramatic aspect of the movie is more important than the narrative structure of the whole idea. Usually, this would mean that the movie is bad, but in the case of Dark Shadows – it works perfectly.
The most confusing thing about this movie is the complex cycle of resurrection that starts with Barbanas waking up in the 20th century. Bella Heathcote’s characters are also quite confusing, as she does not play the same character but what seems to be a reincarnation of the same character. One of them is Josette du Pres, the woman Barnabas had loved while he was originally alive, and the other is Maggie/Victoria, the woman Barnabas loves now. They are not the same character, but are played by the same actress and have very similar stories, especially in connection with Barnabas, which confused a lot of people.
Dr. Julia Hoffman also seemingly dies, but it seems that she is also alive, now a vampire like Barbanas, which was intended to set up a potential sequel that never happened. The only character that seemingly did die was Angelique, whose heart crumbled after yet another refusal from Barnabas, which was a very symbolic moment that showed how her character lacked any profound emotions.
We understand how these resurrection cycles in Dark Shadows might have confused people, but we have done our best to explain everything to you.