I have never seen a Blu-ray with zero special features before. This bare bones release of Dylan Dog: Dead of Night just goes to show how much faith was lost in the product after its meager showing with audiences ($1.2 million domestic gross) and critics (a 3% Rotten Tomatoes score). They only even bothered attaching one trailer (Season of the Witch) to the Blu-ray, yet we still get one of those digital copy promos — on a disc that doesn’t even come with a digital copy. Explain that one to me. “Well this movie failed, so we didn’t even bother. But there’s a 95% chance you’ll get one the next time you drop $20 on a Blu-ray. Thanks for the purchase!”
Truth be told, the film was never given much of a chance to succeed after it was dumped into less than 1,000 theaters with hardly any marketing. Want to know how far the film flew under the radar? I’m a massive pro wrestling fan and I didn’t even know “wrestling machine” Kurt Angle had a part in the movie, let alone a major role.
Dylan Dog attempts the rare mash-up of film noir and campy creature feature and I suppose it succeeds at that if nothing else. The voiceover-heavy build begins with the father of our lead actress (Anita Briem, Journey to the Center of the Earth) getting killed by a werewolf. Private Investigator Dylan Dog (Brandon Routh, Superman Returns) takes the case and spends the rest of the movie following clues and trying to prevent a massive war between a who’s who of undead creatures (vampires, zombies, you name it). I can understand if that description gets you interested enough to rent it, but that’s as far as anyone should go.
The film boasts some fun and cheesy creature effects and a catchy little score, but the plot feels rushed, convoluted and never comes across as anything more than Constantine-lite, which makes sense considering Routh is still the same wooden actor who has basically become the poor man’s Keanu Reeves. Briem is equally cringe-worthy and the scenes of dialogue between her and Routh are excruciatingly awkward.
Peter Stormare (Fargo) and Taye Diggs (Equilibrium) deliver over-the-top, but ultimately unmemorable turns. Only the likable Sam Huntington, who I best remember from Detroit Rock City, offers anything resembling an inspired performance. The energy and comic timing he brings to Dylan’s goofy human-turned-zombie sidekick saves the movie from complete unwatchability. Someone get this guy an agent!
Would Dylan Dog have worked better as some sort of “Veronica Mars” meets “True Blood” TV show? Probably. It certainly seems to borrow enough from the “True Blood” formula. The movie features a vampire clan called the “True Bloods,” touches on human vampire blood addiction and even relocates the setting from the London-set comics (thanks Wikipedia!) to New Orleans, though no one actually bothers to speak with a Southern dialect.
You can’t completely blame Routh for seeming unsure about how to play Dylan. There is really no character to play. The script doesn’t allow enough time for him to develop a personality and has too many subplots, secondary characters and clans with their own untold back-stories. It throws a lot at you over the course of 100 minutes and the case would have played out much more smoothly if it had the room to breathe over the course of a 20 episode season. And one liners as cheesy as “you know what they say about werewolf hair — it doesn’t lie” are usually more forgivable coming from a character (like, say, Buffy?) we’ve learned to love over the course of several months or years.