quick review - Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

Fans are, as I understand it, profoundly affronted by this film adaptation of the beloved and long-running Italian comic about an idiosyncratic paranormal investigator with the unlikely name of Dylan Dog. And with a 6% fresh rating on the TomatoMeter, film critics aren’t feeling the warm and fuzzies either. Understandably; though handsomely filmed, the script is mostly cardboard and the performances are mostly wooden or, at least, thinner than even the film’s paltry plot. Brandon Routh, better known for putting on the cape left behind by Superman Christopher Reeve, makes for a stilted protagonist. His partner, energetically played by Sam Huntington, fares better in the role of comic relief. The plot involves an artifact with the power to resurrect an unkillable monster, with Dylan trying to sort out a murder victim’s daughter, a power-hungry vampire, and a clan of werewolves. In other words, nothing that hasn’t been seen elsewhere in the Whedonverse or other offerings in the occult genre.

Yet nothing about the film is really bad, per se; merely lacking in professional refinement. The mystery is engaging enough to stick with, and the cast eventually loosens up as the film progresses. Sympathy for the dead is the film’s greatest asset, presenting the world of vampires, werewolves, and zombies not as unequivocally evil but just as morally variable as humans. A zombie subculture of body shops and support groups offers a hilarious and surprisingly poignant look at people who retain their personalities but have become undead creatures with unique needs. Into this universe comes a role for Dylan beyond occult detective; he serves as mediator between the living and the dead, ensuring that paranormal crimes don’t destabilize the social order. An interesting idea, and a refreshing alternative to the death-fearing stance typical of the horror genre.

Whatever the relationship to the comic, I find myself agreeing with other critics who see in Dylan Dog not a successful feature film, but a seed that a television series format could mature into something worthwhile.

No comments: