For a movie about a private investigator of the dead, someone should look into the mystery of why this movie is so rotten. The mix of detective yarn and monster movie has been done before (most notably in the underrated Cast a Deadly Spell), but instead of crackerjack dialogue amidst a fantastic noir tale, the picture is hobbled by a dreadful script that seems to enjoy annoying its audience. The film’s vision -- whose aspirations run far too close to TV production values -- is an accomplice to this crime, thanks to bland monster FX that cheapen the picture time and again. Oh, and there’s a wisecracking sidekick -- the kind that invites acid reflux-like groans anytime he opens his mouth. Dylan Dog: Dead of Night isn’t even deserving of a theatrical release -- which must be why it sat on the shelf for so long.
Former Man of Steel Brandon Routh stars as Dylan Dog, a P.I. with a dark past that comes to haunt him when he accepts the case of a young woman (Anita Briem) whose father was killed by a werewolf. It seems that her dear old dad was a collector of antiques -- rare antiques -- one of which held the key to a demon that would do the bidding of whoever beckoned it, a dangerous tool in the eternal fight between the legions of the dead and the living. As the case heats up, Dylan’s partner in crime, Marcus (Sam Huntington), is killed and comes back to life as a zombie -- a curse that comes in handy for picking up clues at self-help groups for the undead (unfortunately this actually happens). When the clues point to a vampire clan that runs a dance club in town, Dylan, Elizabeth, and Marcus dive headfirst into what could be the beginning of the end of humankind and the undead alike.
Many things could have improved Dylan Dog -- for one, not having the character of Marcus around. Just as Shia LaBeouf sullied up the somewhat similar Constantine big-screen adaptation, Sam Huntington becomes the thorn in Dylan Dog’s side. Rubber-looking monsters aside, the film would have been ten times more palatable if it weren’t for the weenie pal always butting in with his lame and oh-so-tired wit. Routh doesn’t help matters much, as he shambles around the screen with little iconic posturing and chews up junk dialogue in his deep-voiced drawl. All of this might just go back to director Kevin Munroe (TMNT), who makes a not-so-great splash here with his live-action feature-film debut.
It also doesn’t help that Dead of Night is a subpar adaptation of Tiziano Sclavi’s Italian horror comics, which also inspired 1994’s stellar arthouse Italian horror comedy Cemetery Man. Dylan Dog lives up to neither of those inspirations. Then again, the original comic featured a Groucho Marx clone as the comic-relief assistant, so viewers are at least lucky that the filmmakers weren’t slavish about adapting the material. Still, one can be sure that Dylan Dog won’t have much of a future shelf life beyond the used DVD section. Sorry Superman, throw this sucker in the dud pile. Routh, monster movies, Tiziano, and audiences alike all deserve better. leave a comment --Jeremy Wheeler