Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2010): A Macabre Review.

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night Poster

Dylan Dog Digs Detective Duties Donning Dashing Duds

Hello again horror fans.  Your loyal Gravedigger Glen here.  Last time, I reviewed Dellamorte Dellamore.  A movie that shares a connection to the Italian comic ‘Dylan Dog’.  After a comment from atypicaloracle mentioning the Dylan Dog movie that I completely forgot even existed, it seemed the logical choice for me was to continue the connection route and give it a look to see how it fared.

We begin with learning that Dylan has retired from the supernatural aspect of detective work, due to the love of his life being murdered at the hands of vampires.  His work life now consists of your standard P.I. work, photographing cheating spouses and the like.  His plucky sidekick Marcus gives him a case involving the murder of a successful importer, so Dylan decided to at least check it out.  When the importer’s daughter claims the murder was the fault of a monster, Dylan storms out of the house, refusing to take the case.  Later in the night however, when he returns to his office to find Marcus dead on his office floor, it’s clear that it was done by something non-human.  So he breaks out his trademark red shirt, blue jeans and jacket, along with his tools of the supernatural investigating trade, and dives back into the world of vampires, werewolves and zombies to figure out who was behind the murders.

I feel I should start with a minor complaint/opinion on how this movie starts.  The “Dylan Dog” comic series as far as I know is not very well-known in North America as compared to say The Walking Dead, or anything put out by DC or Marvel Comics.  So it seems to me that a movie based on a foreign comic should focus more on introducing the everyday world of the Dylan Dog that the comics  have already established, not starting with Dylan being retired from what he’s known for, with only flashbacks into why he retired.  My ideal introduction would have been more along the lines of getting to know the main characters and normal events surrounding them, having Dylan’s lady-love dying near the end of the movie, and having his retiring taking up the end of the first movie and going into the first part of the sequel.  But hey, that’s just me.

Anyway, it turns out Dylan’s back in the game with good reason: someone is trying to retrieve and use “The Heart of Belial”, an artifact that through proper use will actually summon the demon Belial himself to earth in physical form through the body of a supernatural creature.  It’s up to Dylan and his undead sidekick Marcus (that’s right, Marcus returns as a zombie) to find out who is behind everything and stop Belial from being summoned.

Whether you’ll like this movie or not will depend on a couple of things: one, how much of a stickler you are for adaptation accuracy, and two, the movie’s overall execution.  Let’s talk about the adaptation first.  Dead of Night does get some things spot on, like Dylan’s wardrobe (at least when he comes out of “retirement”), his love of the clarinet, and his lack of funds to name a few.  He even drives the same kind of car, though the car is black unlike its white comic book counterpart.  His sidekick in the comics was a Groucho Marx impersonator (no, really), but due to legal issues had to be changed to Marcus the (eventual) zombie.  I thought Marcus (played by Sam Huntington) was still quite entertaining, and after I found out why this character was there, made it an ok change to me.  One thing kept the same between the two sidekicks at least was that they are both nearby to toss guns to Dylan when needed.

Now let’s discuss the execution.  There are a few things I had a slight issue with (aside from what I previously mentioned earlier).  One thing is that the comic Dylan has phobias of heights, small spaces, and bats.  The first two situations happened in the movie, but the phobias weren’t addressed.  Not a big deal really, but I thought it would have been a nice touch to have Dylan freaking out and showing a weak side, resulting in Marcus stepping up and getting him out of the jam.  Also, while it’s true I haven’t actually read the comics, I understand there’s a dark, melancholy atmosphere surrounding everything.  And I feel that the movie just didn’t quite capture that feeling.  Also, Brandon Routh, who played the title character, didn’t seem to fully embrace the kind of person Dylan Dog is portrayed as in the comic.  However, I still did enjoy his performance.  It’s honestly hard to not enjoy any of his roles.  He seems to be consistently good, and I can’t really complain in this case either.

Technical wise, things were ok.  The camerawork wasn’t fantastic, but it’s certainly better than many other movies I’ve seen lately.  The soundtrack was decent, with the exception of a couple of choice rock songs (The very first song specifically didn’t sit well with me for some reason).  The makeup and special effects were also satisfactory to me.  But then again, I’m of the belief that if you’re not overusing CGI, then you’re automatically on the right track.

When it comes down to it, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night doesn’t really have anything original about it, and there are no big surprises or scares happening.  It’s pretty much run-of-the-mill, I have to say.  I’d personally prefer there were movies based on The Dresden Files novel series (wink, wink, Hollywood)  However, I found myself not regretting spending time watching it.  I recommend you at least check it out.  While I don’t really consider it a buy, it’s definitely worth a rent.  Just make sure you have some popcorn (or equivalent movie snack) on hand.  I found it added to the fun.

Macabre Rating: 3 out of 5 tombstones.

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