In an alternate universe, Superman and Jimmy Olsen police the undead.

Working class werewolves. Hip, sleazy vampires. Nebbishy zombies and one really angry one. An old guy with a pretty daughter gets murdered most foul, and a comedy sidekick gets murdered but gets better... ish. Oh, and the most vile and hideous of Hell's creatures ever to have walked the earth but then get trapped in an artifact is on track for being brought back for a command performance. Hilarity ensues.

"Dylan Dog: Dead of Night" (2011)
directed by Kevin Munroe
written by Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer
starring Brandon Routh, Sam Huntington, Anita Briem, Taye Diggs, and Peter Stormare

How is it?
As I know I say a lot about movies, even if you haven't seen this movie you've seen this movie. It's not bad. It's not good. It's... competent... ish. Allow me to explain.

The Players
Again, as I know I say a lot in reviews, the cast does well with the material they were given, mostly. After three viewings in as many days I still can figure out Brandon Routh's performance as Dylan Dog. His performance comes across uneven, often a bit wooden. Some scenes work well enough while others don't seem to quite gel, and I can't figure out if it's because of him, the writing, possibly the director, or all three of the above. It was distracting for me as a viewer. Anita Briem as Elizabeth runs into the same problem, though to a lesser extent. Sam Huntington steals the show as Marcus. The comedy sidekick often does to a degree, but frankly, when he is on-screen he dominates. He was helped by having probably the best-written main role in the entire film. Still, he does breathe some extra life into the movie, which is good. Peter Stormare and Taye Diggs play the werewolf and vampire heavyweights, respectively. Stormare has the least screen time but of course gives his character, Gabriel, all he's got, while Taye Diggs is on-screen a fair deal more but doesn't much bring anything unique or interesting to Vargas, the vampire boss.

Honorable mention goes to Dan Braverman as Big Al, the zombie parts shop owner. He owned that scene. I wish Big Al had been in more of the movie. A small role, yes, but solid and memorable.

Behind the Camera
It never sounds good when the first compliment someone gives a movie is that it was lit and shot well. So of course this isn't the best start possible for this section of the review. But it's true. A good deal of director Kevin Munroe's experience has been in animation, production design, and art, and so "Dylan Dog: Dead of Night" has good visuals. Its production design, art direction, lighting, and photography are very good. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in the previous section, some of the performances are uneven, a problem which can be at least partly attributed to him. Part of the blame also rests with the script.

While the story and its details are interesting as concepts, the comedy works a lot more than the serious, especially the semi-noir narrations, which, like quite a lot of Dylan's dialogue, are rather stilted and seem to try a bit too hard to be (sort of) gritty. The structure of the whole thing flows, but it never quite seems to fire on all cylinders, except for the comedy sidekick stuff, which includes most of the zombies. It's almost as if  screenwriters Donnelly and Oppenheimer really wanted to write another movie while writing this one.

The Verdict
Despite this movie never quite coming together... and despite it being formulaic... and despite Routh's lead performance being uneven... I get an attitude from the movie that I genuinely appreciate. Truth be told, I bottom line this movie as "technically competent but not impressive" and "not bland but certainly average". But I like it. I like it more than I know I should. (Maybe I've got the generous holiday spirit early.)

"Dylan Dog: Dead of Night" really isn't anything to write home about, but it's probably good for movie night with some friends. You can laugh and have a good time watching it or ripping it apart, depending on your tastes. I'm sure there's a drinking game just waiting to be created for it as well. Recommended... ish.


  1. I felt like this movie tried so damn hard to be likable but just didn't have any real talent behind it to work. Routh is just a giant chunk of handsome wood with no romantic chemistry or spark, and the story felt like it would've worked better on a 43 minute episode of Buffy. Ah well, it wasn't aggressively bad, it just tried so aggressively hard!

  2. I can't disagree with you, Emily. It tried really hard but didn't manage. And yes, Routh is rather wooden. And yes, it would've likely benefited from being a shorter movie. I reckon I like it because of how promising it was and how hard it really tried, the attitude I picked up from it. Maybe it's an underdog type of thing. It really is a bit of a mystery to me why I do like this film as much as I do.

  3. Oddly, an Italian friend of mine was actually just telling me that it was a shame Cemetary Man was made when it was, as the author of the original novel is the same fellow who wrote the Dylan Dog comics, and (according to my friend) the Dylan Dog stuff is apparently quite a bit more compelling.

    (Frankly, I loved Dellamorte Dellamore/Cemetary Man, but it does sound like Dylan Dog could have had some magic to it, given the right creative team.)

  4. I enjoyed "Cemetery Man" as well, and it's another that had a great premise that I thought just wasn't quite captured, despite the efforts of the filmmakers. Of course, I am also quite weak for Anna Falchi.