‘Dylan Dog: Dead of Night’ Review

Published 4 years ago by , Updated May 22nd, 2011 at 7:49 pm,

Dylan Dog Dead of Night Review Dylan Dog: Dead of Night Review

Screen Rant’s Ben Kendrick reviews Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

The 2011 summer blockbuster movie season is packed with comic book adaptations: Thor, X-Men: First Class, Priest, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Green Lantern. However, in a film-scape loaded with familiar comic properties, a lesser-known hero has already hit the big screen this summer: paranormal investigator Dylan DogDylan Dog: Dead of Night isn’t the first cinematic interpretation of the Dylan Dog universe. In 1994 director Michele Soavi filmed Dellamorte Dellamore starring Rupert Everett as Francesco Dellamorte (a side character in the Italian comic series) who dressed in the iconic Dylan Dog outfit – though the titular lead never appeared in the film. The movie received mostly negative reviews in the U.S. and abroad.

More than 15 years later, director Kevin Munroe (TMNT) and former Superman Brandon Routh (Superman Returns), with the help of independent film companies Platinum Studios and Hyde Park Films, set out to give Dylan Dog fans an improved film adaptation. Does Dylan Dog: Dead of Night manage to succeed in capturing the whit and charm of the printed series or, like the film’s many undead inhabitants, should the filmmakers have just let the character rest in peace?

Unfortunately, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night falls short of being either an entertaining adaptation of the Dylan Dog character or a satisfying film in general.

If you’re unfamiliar with the basic Dylan Dog: Dead of Night premise, Dylan Dog (Brandon Routh) is an ex-paranormal investigator living in New Orleans who, following the death of his girlfriend (at the hands of a vampire clan), hangs up his potions as well as red and black duds in favor of normal P.I. work – until he investigates the death of a well-off importer. Dylan turns down the case, but when his friend and associate, Marcus Adams (Sam Huntington), is killed by an undead monster, the investigator is thrown back into the paranormal business – beating down the doors of vampires, werewolves, and zombies alike in search of answers. The first two-thirds of the Dead of Night story are somewhat entertaining – though character development, as well as the hope for a satisfying end sequence, go out the window by the final act.

Dylan Dog Dead of Night Brandon Routh Sam Huntington Dylan Dog: Dead of Night Review

Brandon Routh and Sam Huntington in 'Dylan Dog Dead of Night'

The pairing of Brandon Routh and Sam Huntington (who shared a similar dynamic as Clark Kent and Jimmy Olson in Superman Returns) works well for the majority of the film. Routh manages to offer up a straightforward, but enjoyably tongue-in-cheek, performance as Dylan Dog – pulling off a lot of weighted exposition (such as the telltale signs of werewolf coat fibers) with a knowing smirk on his face. Huntington is also competent as the recently undead Marcus Allen, who spends the majority of the movie learning to embrace his new-found zombie upkeep regimens (bleach for your teeth, worms for dinner). Huntington keeps things light – especially when paired against Dylan Dog’s no-nonsense demeanor.

Taye Diggs is less successful as the primary antagonist, Vargas – a ruthless vampire with a thirst for power (and blood). Diggs has a few good moments in the film but the performance is caught in a middle-ground between charisma and caricature – resulting in a number of especially flat encounters. It’s hard to blame any of the actors, though. Even Routh’s exposition-heavy performance helps audiences understand the complicated undead world in New Orleans – but the story-beats ultimately convolute interesting relationships and flat or generic dialogue deflates one tense confrontation after another.

There’s an almost interesting “whodunit” at the core of Dylan Dog: Dead of Night – but the filmmakers attempt to cram so much of the comic-book universe into the film that it’s hard to make sense of each twist in the story. Much of the film is centered on the search for an ancient relic – which the various undead clans are clamoring to either protect or obtain. By the end, subtleties fall by the wayside and motivations become clearer (comparatively) but – the point-by-point progression has gone back and forth so many times it’s hard to recall exactly how the film gets there.

Dylan Dog Paranormal Investigator Dylan Dog: Dead of Night Review

Similarly, the climax convolutes prior rules established in the film – in favor of trying to skirt some of the responsibility of the final revelations. Any character-level pay-offs are thrown out the window and the final moments rob Dylan Dog of having to sew-up the crisis at hand – as well as face any sort of emotional fallout.

For fans of 80s-era monster films, one of the more interesting aspects of Dylan Dog: Dead of Night will probably be the film’s implementation of practical effects. In a world of CGI-heavy comic book films, Dead of Night was produced on a modest budget – around $8 million. In spite of the messy story, certain movie-buffs may find it entertaining to see the crew work around the financial limitations, with Thriller-like werewolf make-up and a number of transformations that occur when the sweeping camera is obscured for a second. While the effects will certainly put-off moviegoers looking for an adventure on-par with the epic scale expected in the current comic book film landscape, for some movie fans Dead of Night could be an enjoyable-enough throw-back to the monster/action films of the late 80s and early 90s – before CGI made it cheaper to digitize creatures.

In the end, while it’s unlikely to serve the tastes of fans looking for an action-packed summer blockbuster, a pair of enjoyable performances from Routh and Huntington prevent Dylan Dog: Dead of Night from being a total throwaway. However, the pair’s chemistry can’t make up for an extremely convoluted, and mostly soulless story – even when there’s a giant zombie running around.

If you’re still on the fence about Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, check out the trailer below:

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick – and let us know what you thought of the film below.

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night is currently playing in theaters.

Our Rating:

2 out of 5

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  1. Still sounds like a gas to me- I like convoluted stories. =3

  2. I wanted to love this fim but I just liked it enough. However, I loved Brandon and Sam in their roles. Wish they had been in a better movie.

  3. Very true. Routh and Huntington helped what was otherwise a so-so mystery/horror film. Still, some of the monsters in the film were awesome looking.

  4. Why is it that a talented actor like routh always gets comic book movie projects that are bad for his career? put him back on the man of steel, or make him cyclops in x-men 4

    • Ok, I know there are fans out there who want Routh to reprise his role as Superman and while I DO NOT agree, I have never heard anyone mention Routh for Cyclops. That one I agree with. I think Routh could portray Cyclops the way he supposed to be. Nice one!

  5. Hi Ben,

    We get that this is more or less a third echelon (maybe even forth) level kind of comic/fantasy/monster movie.

    With that in mind, how would your rate it against the following?

    League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

    The Wolfman (Benicio del Toro)

    Van Helsing


    I thought all of those were worthy DVD’s and a good way to kill a rainy day.

    Is this a get as soon as it hits DVD, a good rainy day movie at some point or is it one of those that you consider seeing, but never really get around to doing?

    • It’s been awhile since I viewed a few of those (I actually really enjoy Constantine) so I’m not sure it’d be totally fair for me to rank it against the others. Though, most of the films you mentioned are bigger in scale – and, as a result, have larger action set-pieces (if that’s something you’re looking for). I’d say the main thing that makes the movie fun, as mentioned by others as well, is the chemistry between Routh and Huntington – within the crazy undead backdrop.

      I was actually just talking with the friend who screened the movie with me and we both agreed that it’d be a worthy Saturday night rental but not something people should rush out and see in theaters.

  6. Routh just can’t seem to catch a break.

  7. @Nautius: IMO, it’s worth a rental just for Brandon and Sam’s great chemistry and overall performance.

    @mongoose: So true.

  8. If you are going to slag off Dellamorte Dellamore, why not mention that Routh’s Dylan Dog got near total negative reviews in the U.S. and abroad? It is a 6% Rotten Tomatometer film. SIX percent.

    • munch,

      Because we don’t reference other reviews of a movie when we write our own.


    • Routh’s Dylan Dog got near total negative reviews in the US and abroad. :-)

  9. “In a world of CGI-heavy comic book films, Dead of Night was produced on a modest budget (around $35 million).”

    I just can’t believe the budget was that high. IMO, it didn’t show at all. Plus Harry from Aintitcoolnews recently said the movie actual budget was $8 million. These are his exacts words:

    “That said, going into the AICN event, I knew this was a film on an $8 million dollar budget & not a large scale version of DYLAN DOG, although it was originally intended to be that.”

    I don’t know if I can post the link to that site, but for those interested it was published on Apr 30, 2011. Personally, I’m pretty upset about what happened to this film because I’m a big Dylan Dog and Brandon Routh fan. They deserved a much better movie. What a shame and waste of talent. I’m pretty sure that in more talented hands and with a bigger budget this could have been an really good movie.

    • @Star – Ya, I was surprised by that as well. Though, those were the numbers I had seen reported.

      That said, I’m going to update it with the $8 million number – since it does look like a number of sites are running with that number (and it does fit what I saw on-screen).

  10. Saw it last Friday, I liked all right, but yes, it was a little overly convoluted and forced). As usual, Routh and Huntington were on their game (as they are in almost everything they are in), but it just felt like this would be something better as a companion series to True Blood or Supernatural (hey, exchange one Superman for another!) So that the plotlines could be less forced together and stretched out to tell a complete story, not just the highlights.

  11. 2 issues that need to be corrected in the review we have here:

    a) Dellamorte Dellamore was not received with negative reviews. On the contrary, it received moderate to glowing reviews when it came out and is now widely considered a cult classic. Check your research on this. If you don’t like it, say so, but don’t hide behind information that is incorrect.

    b) The budget for the flick was somewhere around 20 million, actually. This is the first time I see the numbers of 35 and 8 million pop up and I have been following the production of the film since the very beginning. Again, do some more research.

    • Ivica, studios lie about the budget of movies all the time.

      • Yes, they lie to push down the budget (claiming $8 million), to make returns look better on their real budget ($20 million as told to their investors). On top of the production budget of $20 million comes the prints and advertising budget, which a producer informally claims to be around $10 million, but outsiders have speculated could be up to 2 to 3 times that.

  12. I also want to say that this review is one of the most fair I’ve seen on the net; some reviewers are way too harsh on the movie and even on Routh. I’ve read some of the comics, so I have some idea of how Dylan is supposed to be, and Routh really captured the character’s personality for me. yeah, he may have been out of character at times, but overall I saw the Dylan Dog of the comics. He’s a pretty dry and sarcastic character, who also likes to crack a joke once in a while. That’s what Routh did.

  13. Honestly, this review makes me want to see the movie more. I am still going to wait for the rental (as I do with MOST movies) but this is one I am definatly going to see. That is the great thing about movies. You never know when one will grab you even though most would disagree.

  14. Strangely me and my fiancé (a special fx/beauty makeup artist in training) actually enjoyed this. It was convulted but I anticipated that just off the source material and the back of the DVD. We both really enjoyed the practical efx. They weren’t the greatest but they added heart. The acting from Routh and Huntington was groovy. Huntington especially was a treat. Diggs was meh as was the lead female. And a wee bit of noir thrown in for good measure. All in all a groovy b movie we were happy to see.