Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2011)
Directed by Kevin Munroe
If Dylan Dog: Dead of Night had been a Syfy Channel original movie or television pilot, it would hold up as a better-than-average time waster. As a feature, it’s mostly weak sauce and undeserving of its wide theatrical release. I’m unfamiliar with the Italian comic series on which it’s based but I understand the fans are up in arms over the movie, which twists the mature source material into a more light-hearted comedic romp through monsterland.
Shedding his Superman tights, Brandon Routh carries the film pretty well as the title character, a dry supernatural private dick operating out of New Orleans. The city is host to vampires, werewolves, and other assorted nasties who operate in the secret underbelly of society. When his assistant Marcus (Sam Huntington) meets an untimely death and comes back as a frightened zombie, Dylan helps his old pal adjust to life as a member of the undead while investigating the mysterious case of a new client that could have major repercussions on the monster community.
Dylan Dog: Dead of Night mixes action, horror and comedy in equal measures but it only succeeds in one department. Considering the spooky Louisiana surroundings, the film has nothing in the way of atmosphere and plods along with a typical paint-by-numbers detective story involving generic prophecies and the coming apocalypse. What keeps it from being a total bore are the comic relief scenes between Dylan and his newly dead sidekick, Marcus. The chemistry between Routh and Huntington makes for a great comedy team and this “undead fish out of water” subplot is genuinely entertaining to watch.
The same can’t be said for the main story and supporting cast, which I’ve already forgotten about. Taye Diggs is the vampire nemesis and Anita Briem is Dylan’s client/love interest and they make no impression whatsoever. All these characters are thrown together for the typical CGI-laden “save the world” climax we’ve seen a hundred times over and you’d be hard-pressed to care one way or the other. Anything not involving zombie shenanigans holds little interest by the time the film slumps to the finish line.
The PG-13 rating also makes for some pedestrian action sequences. When your title character is an armed-to-the-teeth supernatural hunter in a world full of monsters, you’d better deliver the carnage, but the few set pieces we get are pretty damn lifeless when they’re not glossed over entirely. How entertaining would the Blade movies have been if most scenes showed Wesley Snipes enter a nest of vampires, sword drawn, only to cut to the aftermath? That’s the never-ending cock-tease of Dylan Dog - It sets up a cool world to explore and wastes every opportunity to get truly creative. It’s like watching the cheaper family-friendly version of "True Blood".
It’s no surprise that Dylan Dog is being billed as a comedy in the U.S., since that is the one element that works. It should be noted that the creator of the comic series also wrote the 1994 classic Cemetery Man (a.k.a. Dellamorte Dellamore), which covers similar ground and is vastly superior in every respect.
2 1/2 out of 5
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