There are several good reasons for a guy like me to get behind a weird little movie like Dylan Dog: Dead of Night: a) it comes from a comic book that only the cool kids seem to know about, and those movies are usually pretty fantastic; b) it's an unabashedly broad mixture of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hellboy, and a particularly simplistic film noir, c) it comes from the director of the surprisingly cool Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot from a few years back; and d) it's got colorful actors doing ostensibly crazy things having to do with zombies, vampires, and werewolves. Frankly I was prepared to wrap my nerdly arms around Dylan Dog: Dead of Night and stick it on a shelf next to similar flicks like Underworld, Blade, and Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer.
Unfortunately for all involved, Kevin Munroe's Dylan Dog simply refuses to play along. What should / could have been a simply amusing mash-up of all the films mentioned in the previous paragraph is instead a dull, tiresome, corny, redundant, grating, and wholly amateurish flick that hopes to coast by on genre-style charm ... but it's hard for the horror fans to show that much charity to a flick that delivers on none of its promises. Despite the presence of generally entertaining folks like Brandon Routh, Sam Huntington, Peter Stormare, and Taye Diggs -- and despite a juicy set-up best described as Jules Dassin's Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (or perhaps 'The Monster Squad Goes to New Orleans') -- nothing in Dylan Dog hits the screen with any degree of wit, cleverness, or creativity.
Mr. Dog (Brandon Routh, quite a ways from Krypton) and his zombie sidekick (don't ask; it's a painfully dumb subplot that gets way too much screen time) becomes embroiled in a patently boilerplate piece of mystery-movie mumbo jumbo when a werewolf kills a mysterious "importer." The daughter of the deceased (Anita Briem, pretty) hires Dylan to find out where the monster came from, and then we're off into an underworld one could call "Anne Rice meets R.L. Stine." When I say that Dylan Dog is a New Orleans-based neo-noir mystery flick in which zombies and vampires and werewolves (oh my) co-exist in a balance better developed in slightly better film -- I'm making it sound a whole lot more fun than it is.
Adapted from Tiziano Scalvi's book by the screenwriting team behind Sahara and A Sound of Thunder, the flick wants to coast by on its childish approach to undead monstrosities, but an affable tone simply doesn't make up for the borderline witless material that's on display here. Huntington's sidebar as a gradually rotting zombie sidekick, perhaps funny on paper, is played in the film with an alarming degree of sitcom-style broadness. Scenes of alleged humor simply ramble on and on; character actors are allowed to overact wildly in the hopes of landing a funny scene; the editorial aspect is outrageously bad: Routh's voice-over narration, at first fine in a noir-style throwback, quickly becomes a constant interruption, plus the annoying part is this: the non-stop narration exists mainly to connect one scene of broad silliness with another scene of aggressively tiresome exposition. Why the hell does a movie called Dylan Dog: Dead of Night have aspirations of Chinatown, for crap's sake?
A low-rent and lethargic leftover from a sub-genre that was kinda popular three years ago, Dylan Dog aims low and misses its target with distressing tenacity. The flick is also an egregious waste of Routh's comedic talents; the guy just sorta wanders through the proceedings with next to nothing in the personality department. Plenty of clunky backstory we care nothing about, but very little personality.
It won't even hit most moviegoers' radars, but I count Dylan Dog as sort of a disappointment. I pretty much live for films that try to combine, say, film noir with classic Universal monsters, but when a project like this goes bad ... it reminds us why people don't try it too often. For all its potentially "awesome" components, Dylan Dog simply isn't any fun.