Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2011)

CapeTentHalf a tent

The movie is set in New Orleans, and the comic is set in London, but it’s written in Italian. In fact it’s apparently Italy’s top selling title. In the comic, Dylan is constantly falling for a new female client, and has a sidekick who is a Groucho Marx impersonator.

A fake Groucho would have improved this movie. Because in this version, the Odious Comic Relief sidekick (Sam Huntington) is seriously grating. He gets way too much screen time.

The idea is that Dylan (Brandon Routh) is the policeman of the undead — the guy whose job it is to stop any vampire, zombie, werewolf, or what have you who gets too rambunctious and obvious, to the point where they might bring trouble down on the rest of the nonliving community. Or rather, he was the holder of that role, but he quit to become an ordinary nonsupernatural private detective, and now he’s being brought back for One Last Job.

They pile on the noir private eye clichés really thick. All the hardboiled voiceover tropes that have been deconstructed to death for decades are played completely straight. I get the impression that maybe they thought that the private-dick schtick would anchor the fantastical supernatural shit in something real and accessible — give it some grounding. But it doesn’t work. Because the tropes are such clichés, the effect is to make everything as mannered and ostentatiously artificial as Rian Johnson’s Brick. So much so that it takes you out of the movie and is a bigger strain on suspending your disbelief than the dumbass supernatural monsters are.

The rest of the movie that isn’t noir ripoff is Buffy ripoff. Which gets way more literal than you expect, in the concluding act. (But at least they make the Buffy clichés mesh with the noir clichés in an interesting way, setting the two formulae against each other in such a way as to make what would be routine in one context somewhat surprising due to expectations from the other. But that doesn’t help the other 99% of the film very much.) And there’s a further problem: a bunch of action scenes that are about as viscerally hard-hitting as the average Wyle E. Coyote cartoon. When you throw in the Odious Comic Relief, and a cheap steak of a leading man... what you’ve got is layer upon layer of mediocrity.

Strangely, the one bit of this film whose quality rises slightly above the surface of the swamp is the detective work. They actually have some idea of how to have him intelligently find and follow clues, sort of.

That ain’t much in the overall scheme of things. Overall, this movie is summed up in one word: FAIL.