Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (review)

You wouldn't believe the number of daily hits I get because of a post back in March commenting on the Dylan Dog: Dead of Night trailer. The film is based on a popular Italian comic -- learned they're called fumetti -- about a private investigator who deals with the supernatural. If you blinked, you probably missed its limited theatrical run, an underwhelming $1.1M total domestic gross and %6 rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Virtually an unknown property in the States, I'm guessing the majority those hits come from Europe.

At first glance, it's easy to mistake Dead of Night for a SyFy original movie because it looks hella cheap and cheesy. However, the budget was $20M and it features more than a few recognizable faces like Brandon Routh, Sam Huntington, Taye Diggs, and Peter Stormare. The story does feel like it was conceived with a much bigger budget in mind: Dylan (Routh) must navigate Louisiana's secret supernatural underworld by interacting with werewolves, vampires, and zombies in order to solve the murder of his client's father.

This is basically a poor man's Constantine (coincidentally, of which it shares an actor and a producer) with lots of failed attempts at humor -- to his credit, Huntington does an admirable job as Dylan's hilarious-sidekick-turned-reluctant-zombie and has nice arc. $20M is more than enough to produce a good film, but not the kind of fantasy-adventure the producers were trying to pull off. A link I tweeted a week or two ago called Confessions of a Low-Budget Horror Writer suddenly seems worth mentioning again. The special effects here just aren't up to par and the story was fairly weak. The big third act twist and resolution was just silly.

The splash pages from the comic have far more interesting ideas. They really put the theatrical posters to shame. It might have made more sense to adapt Dylan Dog into a TV series rather than a feature. Horror comedies have a notoriously spotty track record at the box office. For every Zombieland, you'll get ten Dylan Dogs.

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