Review: ‘Dylan Dog: Dead of Night’ is Dead in the Water

By  · Published on April 30th, 2011

The creators of Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, the long-delayed big screen version of the popular Italian comic, have attempted to translate its pulpy noir feel to the big screen. So they’ve got that going for them.

And that’s about it. Kevin Munroe’s flick is otherwise a chore to sit through, a choppily edited festival of hastily conjoined pop cultural archetypes. With terrible acting, a narrative on autopilot and chaotic blurs passing for action scenes, it’s a direct-to-DVD caliber sojourn through the dregs of comic book adaptation.

Brandon Routh, the fallen Superman, plays New Orleans-based ex-supernatural investigator Dylan Dog, who’s drawn back in the game when a werewolf kills the father of beautiful client Elizabeth Ryan (Anita Briem). With his wisecracking zombie sidekick (Sam Huntington), Dog traverses the Crescent City’s criminal underworld in an attempt to unwrap the conspiracy behind the murder.
A dark place populated by werewolves, zombies and vampires, Dylan Dog’s New Orleans sounds like the stuff that fanboy dreams are made of. Yet it does virtually nothing new with those age-old figures, restricting vampires to haute trendy clubs and werewolves to a meatpacking plant. There’s some clever banter about the zombie diet and the intriguing specter of stores that sell said ghouls replacement body parts, but those elements feel so disconnected from the steamy, seedy world surrounding them that they frankly seem as if they belong to a different movie.

The narrative involves the search for a giant red herring ancient sword, or something, with supernatural powers, or whatever. It follows Dylan throughout the various paranormal communities, engaged in boring tension-free conversations, separated by wipes and irises with the occasional bam-bam fight thrown in. Scenes end abruptly, the tone shifts wildly and the entire production gives off the distinct sense that someone thought the solution to some pretty severe flaws would be to “cut early, cut often.”

I could go on all day. Any attempts to create the sort of engaging, immersive world one might expect of such a detailed, atmospheric milieu are subverted by Munroe’s stagy medium-shot oriented direction. The protagonist’s oppressive narration drowns us in a sea of verbiage, filling in the blanks to such an extent that he will often tell us what’s going to happen right before it happens. From his handsome, vaguely moody features to his hero-jock voice, Routh once again comes across as a young Tom Cruise without the charisma.

There’s really no point in continuing. Given its poorly-publicized, under-the-radar release, you’re probably not aware that Dylan Dog: Dead of Night is out. Sometimes ignorance, believe you me, really is bliss.

The Upside: There are a few clever touches here and there – loved the zombie parts store, for example. Peter Stormare is an entertaining over-actor.

The Downside: Just about everything else.

On the Side: The Dylan Dog comic has sold over 60 million copies worldwide. So it’s got to be better than this.