Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night – review

Director: Kevin Munroe

Release date: 2011

Contains spoilers

So a long, long, long time ago I put a pre-order in for the Dylan Dog DVD at Amazon UK. After a while I got an email saying the film had been put back, and then a further email to the same effect every so often. Eventually, having been determined to buy the UK disc, I cancelled the order and ordered the US disc – after all, by that time it was cheaper than the UK pre-order price. Is there a moral to that story? Not really, unless it is to point out to the various companies involved in film production and distribution that messing your customers around is uncool.

Brandon Routh as Dylan
What else was meant to be uncool was Dylan Dog itself. I had heard bad reports, especially about leading man Brandon Routh. Well I didn’t find it all that bad, to be perfectly honest. It isn’t the best movie ever made and Routh isn’t the most charismatic lead (though as it is played like a noir he doesn’t have to be that animated), but I have seen much worse.

Anita Briem as Elizabeth
The film begins with a woman, Elizabeth (Anita Briem), cooking dinner for her and her father. She puts out a plate when she sees blood drip onto the porcelain, pooling from the ceiling above. She runs upstairs to find her father dead and something furry burst through the window and escape into the night. We then get a Sam Spade like voice-over about things that die and come back and how you would call Dylan (Brandon Routh) or you used to, but he is out of that game now. Once, however, he had been the line between them and humanity.

Sam Huntington as Marcus
Dylan, in the here and now, has a gun aimed at his head. The gunman is a husband that Dylan caught and photographed cheating on his wife and he blames Dylan for the fact that he is going to lose everything. Dylan has little sympathy but when the man suggests that his wife cheated first he offers his services… at the right price. Marcus (Sam Huntington, Being Human (US)) comes in with a new camera for Dylan. He wants to be Dylan’s partner, rather than a general dogsbody, but Dylan doesn’t want one. There is a new job in the Garden District (the film is set in New Orleans). It turns out to be Elizabeth, who was given his card (from the old days) by a priest. Dylan walks away.

vampire blood is a drug
Next we visit the vampires of the film. The vampires are marketing their own blood as a designer drug that you inhale through a nebuliser and it makes the user, strong and – if the person we see is anything to go by – really rather annoying. Later we hear that humans addicted to vampire blood are called ghouls. The leader of the vampires, Vargas (Taye Diggs), is informed that there has been a werewolf murder, a fact that doesn’t interest him until he hears that the victim had imported ‘the heart’ from the old country – this is the artefact at the centre of the film.

wake up dead
Marcus is at the office and is attacked by a zombie and killed. Now one thing I did like was how they did the zombies in this. Flesh-eaters become ripped super-zombies (that didn’t work awfully well  visually to be honest) but the normal zombies are worm eating undead that maintain thought and personality. They do, however, rot. Enter the bodyshop – a place where zombies can buy new parts (arms, legs, heads!). Marcus comes back as a zombie and some of the best moments of the film surround him coming to terms with his condition.

Peter Stormare as Gabriel
As for Dylan, he take the case – following Marcus’ murder – and is sent down a path where he has to confront the head of a werewolf family, Gabriel (Peter Stormare, the Batman Vs Dracula), run in with Vargas, confront both his past and a killer zombie, face a monster hunter and defeat the ultimate undead. All in a day’s work! Seriously though, the film had promise that it doesn’t achieve but it is quite fun for all that.

burnt by the sun
Vampire wise we discover a few bits and bobs. They can be staked to be killed and sunlight does burn them. One punishment they might give to one of their own is burial, which can lead to insanity following the claustrophobia, hunger and worms eating through their brains. Ancient vampires might go into a hibernation and the vampire clans keep those vampires safe in storage.

The special effects aren’t the best in the world in this, though they are ok in places. But I did like the overall premise. The noir aspect helps Routh get away with his deadpan performance but Huntington gives a nice, quirky performance. The film is based on a comic series and I really should pick the English translation up at some point and see if it achieves what the film should have. 5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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