Dylan Dog: Dead Of Night
Director: Kevin Munroe
Cast: Brandon Routh, Anita Briem Sam Huntington
Review by Brian M. Sammons
This film with the funny name came and went quickly at the box office pretty much without a sound, almost like the stealthy vampires that are in it. So was this stylish story of all things undead staring the last man to play Superman an unsung sleeper hit, or just some horrible thing trying to pass it’s self off as the next great cult favorite?
Well I’ll tell you what, it does seem like a mirror’s reflection of HBO’s fangtastic fan favorite: True Blood.
Now I said reflection and not pale shadow of, or even blatant rip off, as both this movie and that TV show are based on old properties. Dylan first saw life in French comic books, while Sookie and the vampires (sounds like a New Wave band from the ’80s) began as a series of novels. Now I guess I could do some research to find out which came first, but honestly I don’t care all that much.
What is undeniable is that Ture Blood only exploded in popularity once the TV show started and this movie came out at least three years into that HBO hit and the similarities are there. Both are set in Louisiana (who knows, perhaps both are cribbing from Anne Rice), both have lots of vampires and werewolves in them, trying to get by in the human world, both are (or at least try to be) far more comedic than even remotely horrifying, and last but not least, in Dylan Dog there’s even a group called “The True Bloods.”
Now even if all the other stuff already existed in the comic book world of this character, don’t you think at least that part should have been changed? Unless the producers of this film were just trying to ride the Sookie and Bill fandom wave for as far as they could, but such a thing would be a calculated skeevy thing to do, not to mention a desperate cash grab, so what are the odds of that? Well at least Dylan isn’t a tortured, sexy vampire with a tragic past. Nope, he’s a tortured, sexy human with a tragic past. See, completely different!
Mr. Dog, no relation to Snoop, plays the one human in all the world who acts as a cop for the undead. As a regular Joe he is thought to be an unbiased mediator when, for example, vampires somehow wrong werewolves, which I never thought were undead, but whatever… Unfortunately a few years back that tragic event I mentioned happened, which caused Dylan to go postal on a group of bloodsuckers. Since then he has given up the monster policing thing in favor of being a low rent PI, but after a beautiful young woman’s father gets killed by a werewolf, and Dylan’s own partner gets munched on by a zombie, he is dragged back into the world of the monsters.
What follows is a smirky action flick with a wee bit of mystery on top, but one thing that it never is, is scary in any way, shape, or form. Honestly, you could have replaced the vamps, shape shifters, flesh eaters, and all the rest with organized crime, or terrorists, or even aliens and the story would have to be changed only a little. The supernatural aspects of this film are window dressing and nothing more, so if you were looking for an actual horror movie, look elsewhere.
That’s not to say that this movie is bad. No, it was a fun romp, a popcorn movie if there ever was one. But just like popcorn, while it tastes good it’s neither really filling or all that good for you, and you never say to anyone, “Hey remember that time we had that amazing popcorn?” No, popcorn is completely forgettable and sadly, so is this movie. An hour after watching it, you’ll already be forgetting it. I know I was, and I’m paid to remember things like this.
Perhaps the biggest (only) surprise in this movie was Brandon Routh. I know he took a lot of grief for his emo portal of Superman, and rightly so, it was pretty damn bad. That said, he is the highpoint of this film, showing off far more charisma than he did as the Man of Steel, being able to be realistically tough (ok, it gets a bit much when he goes hand to hand with a werewolf) and surprisingly funny. I’m sad this movie wasn’t better and not just a cobbled collection of monster noir bits because I’d like to see Mr. Routh do something more.
As for the rest of the pieces that go into the puzzle of making a good movie, they are ok, but nothing to write home about. The comic sidekick does his duty, the girl in trouble is sadly wooden and just sort of blah, and Taye Diggs does justice to the clichéd modern, ultra suave vampire crime lord. Next to Routh, Peter Stormare as an over the top, scene chewing werewolf is my favorite performance, although professional wrestler Kurt Angle isn’t horrible as a meathead werewolf himself. I guess all those years of acting in the WWE paid off. The direction is competent, if only just, but everything just sort of reeks of coming straight out of the Modern Southern Gothic playbook. As for the special effects, they’re pretty bad and come in two flavors of disappointment: incredibly fake looking CGI, or incredible cheesy looking makeup.
Dylan Dog isn’t a horrible movie and might be a fun watch … once. But that’s all the praise I can give it. As such, I really can’t recommend it, except maybe as a rental.