Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
27Jul/112

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2011)

Here's a bit of lineage for you.  Dylan Dog shares much of the same DNA and storytelling style as Constantine, right down to casting Peter Stormare in the role of one of the unholy ghoulies.  So Dylan Dog the movie owes a debt, but the comic series upon each was based on is a different timeline with the original Dylan Dog comics appearing about two years before the Hellblazer comics that inspired the eventual Constantine.

I'm just amazed that with that much cross-hybridization over almost thirty years not a single decent movie could have been made between the two series.

Constantine was very much a product of it's time with it's gritty, hyper-real detective dealing with his Hellbound soul in frequent exchanges with the devil.  Dylan Dog is also very much representative of it's time.  A time when Marvel Studios has so thoroughly cleansed the superhero palette of any sort of danger or darkness that nothing of interest can escape.  It used to be that the overwhelming darkness and "realism" bugged me, and after watching Dylan Dog I long for that "edge".

Paranormal beasties and the humans that investigate or protect them have been experiencing a resurgence over the last few years.  You've got the book series The Dresden Files keeping people in stitches over what ghoulie is going to be popping up next, The Vampire Diaries taking up the mantle from Buffy.  In an attempt to flood the movie market further, which is certainly not lacking in supernatural wonders at this point, Dylan Dog has come to save the day.  Or overstuff the day, whichever seems more appropriate.

Those allergic to detective cliches are breaking out into hives as you read this.

The titular Dylan (Brandon Routh) is a paranormal detective that keeps a checklist of 40's cliche's on his wall to check off when he gets up in the morning.  He's nihilistic about life, plays a musical instrument, and is willing to bend his self-preservation for any decent pair of legs that wanders into his office.  Well, that pair of legs belongs to Elizabeth (Anita Briem), whose father we see slaughtered by that which goes bump in the night over the title credits.

Anyway, Dylan goes on the hunt to figure out which specific species of beastie did her father in while mourning a lost love and feeling sad over his newly zombified partner Marcus (Sam Huntington).  Zombified because he was killed in the line of duty and then brought back via that mysterious plot magic that glossed over in a hurry to get some overactive mugging back into the films frame.  Dylan and Marcus wander around the city in search of clues that unwrap a longstanding supernatural conspiracy, an ancient evil, and all the assorted bells and whistles that come with this sort of enterprise.

Which isn't really all that bad.  Dylan's attempts at negating any sort of moral absolute are interesting, painting the various ghoul territories as unique social spheres with their own rules and regulations.  There are quite a few fun scenes involving that as well, specifically with Marcus' first support group after he's been turned into a zombie.

The zombie beat-down where Marcus pulls off parts of himself to attack his aggressors was pretty fun though.

Even the style is, at times, appropriate for the tongue-in-cheek approach director Kevin Munroe tries with the material.  Dylan is a hilariously ineffective hero most of the time and his slow motion raid on a vampire lair backed up by poor Marcus, who can barely keep up with the distribution of the weapons Dylan needs, is nicely representative of this.  The film at least, occasionally, remembers that it's not the first of it's kind and tries to have some fun with it.

But none of these touches really elevates Dylan Dog to the level of something that's actually worth watching.  It's admittedly low budget isn't used to it's advantage, keeping most of the action offscreen during the action sequences (not always the best approach).  Also, while the acting of the villains is top-notch, it's always nice to see Peter Stormare and Taye Diggs in hammy and evil roles, Brandon Routh continues to be the void of charisma he proved to be in Superman Returns.  A serviceable actor he is, but still not one to structure an entire movie around.

A very bored person is going to stumble onto Dylan Dog and be entertained some drunken night and be reasonably entertained.  There's enough playfulness with the supernatural motif to make it somewhat unique in this over-saturated land of zombies and vampires.  But there's little reason to be involved, save the hope that Brandon Routh will sleep with the right girl.  So the rest of us stuck with film analysis in the realm of sobriety are going to be disappointed.  Rarely do I long for the touch of Keanu Reeves' action sensibilities, but Dylan Dog has driven me to his arms.

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2011)
Directed by Kevin Munroe.
Screenplay by Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer.
Starring Brandon Routh, Anita Briem and Sam Huntington.

Posted by Andrew

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