Written by: : Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer, Tiziano Sclavi (original comic)
Directed by: Kevin Munroe
Starring: Brandon Routh, Sam Huntington, and Taye Diggs
Reviewed by: Brett G.
ďThe monsters you read about as a kid? They're real.Ē
If youíre a horror fan, you might already be familiar with the Dylan Dog comics without knowing it. Itís the series that gave us the Franscesco Dellamorte character that was immortalized in Michele Soavi film Cemetery Man. To the best of my knowledge, Dellamorte serves as an ďItalian alter-egoĒ to Dylan Dog himself, who finally gets his own movie now with Dylan Dog: Dead of Night. Actually, heís sort of had his movie for a while, as itís been in the can and actually premiered in some other countries last year. Itís finally made its way to the States, and if youíre hoping for anything resembling the glory that was Cemetery Man, prepare for disappointment.
Brandon Routh is the title character--he explains that he used to be a private investigator who worked exclusively for the undead. However, something happened (donít worry, the film will fill you in--eventually) that caused him to give up that life and just become a normal PI; however, heís drawn back into that world by Elizabeth (Anita Briem), a girl whose father is murdered by a werewolf. Before long, Dylan and his undead sidekick (Sam Huntington) find themselves unraveling a vast conspiracy that could start a war between the race of vampires and werewolves that inhabit New Orleans. Oh yeah, thereís also like an eight foot tall zombie roaming around too.
On a surface level, Dylan Dog sounds like it could be a blast--who doesnít like the idea of a huge battle royal between a bunch of undead creatures? However, itís painfully obvious that this is just a quick attempt to cash in on the recent popularity of all these creatures, as television shows like True Blood and The Vampire Diaries have made such monster mashes trendy. And really, itís more suited for the small screen in more ways than one; the cheap production values certainly make it reminiscent of something youíd see from SyFy on a Saturday nights. However, its biggest weakness is that it seemingly crams an entire seasonís (or comic book arcís) worth of plot into about 100 minutes
As such, the filmís plot is buried under an avalanche of exposition, and thereís absolutely no forward momentum. Most of the film consists of Dylan bouncing around town from weirdo to weirdo, collecting information, and he discovers everything from a vampire/werewolf romance to some ancient prophecy that will unleash hell on earth. When he isnít doing that, heís reliving his past tragedies, namely the death of his fiancťe. Thereís occasionally some poorly-shot brawls and shoot-outs, and it all leads to a climax where the character literally claims he has ďno plan--only bigger guns.Ē Thereís a part in the movie where Huntingtonís character asks Dylan if heís making this shit up as he goes along, and it certainly feels like the film itself is doing that. Itís not only overly-plotted, but poorly so as well, as it tosses in all kinds of twists and turns, some of which donít make much sense (pro tip: if your goal is to destroy all monsters, itís probably not wise to use an amulet that can resurrect a badass demon).
I kind of feel bad for most of the actors involved; poor Brandon Routh was unduly maligned in Superman Returns, and he wonít earn much praise here. Heís likeable enough, but his character just isnít very interesting, which is kind of outrageous considering his line of work. Most of the bit players seem to know what a silly mess they're in, so they ham it up and exaggerate their characters--most of whom have unsightly boils and shit on their face, just so we know theyíre evil. Taye Diggs is an exception because he sleepwalks through it all and just seems bored by the proceedings; even Kurt Angle gives a better effort. The filmís lone bright spot is Routhís fellow Superman Returns alum Sam Huntington; he dies and comes back as a zombie during the course of the film. Heís the only one that really seems to be having a ton of fun, and his attempt to adapt to undead life is the only time the film manages to approach the black comic fun of Cemetery Man. Too bad it's sort of tacked on with the rest of the mess that's unfolding.
It also doesnít salvage the film, either. Iím shocked that this managed to secure a wide theatrical release because this is direct-to-video fare trying to dress itself up in big boy clothes. The effects are cheap, especially the vampire and werewolf makeup, which look like dime-store masks; the cinematography is also unappealing, as itís full of tightly cropped scope compositions, and the DP has a tendency to film from behind objects. Iím not a fan of that particular trend, especially when itís misapplied to a horror/action/comedy hybrid. But thereís nothing particularly scary (though there is a surprising amount of zombie gore for a PG-13 film), nor is it all that funny. As for the action? Well, thereís plenty of discussions that make you think a lot is going on in this movie. Really, there isnít. In the end, I think Dylan Dog would have been better off if it could have been put down behind the barn. Even fans of the comic will find this an affront; my loyalty only goes as deep as Cemetery Man, but I feel a bit sorry for them. Trash it!
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