Dylan Dog: Dead of Night
'Dylan' is no dog, but could use some more bite
If a filmmaker is looking to do a really fresh genre movie these days, zombie territory might not be the place to start. Same for vampires, werewolves, and the whole paranormal-investigation biz. And yet we get the supernatural noir “Dylan Dog: Dead of Night,’’ which heedlessly heaps on all of the above — and manages to do it with some entertaining inventiveness, before nagging limitations finally drag it down.
Based on a long-running Italian comic book series created by writer Tiziano Sclavi, the movie stars Brandon Routh (“Superman Returns’’) as Dylan, an eccentric New Orleans P.I. determined to avoid the under-the-radar monster society he once policed. The city, he notes in appropriately hard-boiled voice-over, is a mecca to creatures of the night; he was their appointed peacekeeper. Now, though, he’s cryptically damaged, and when a prospective client (Anita Briem) claims her father was murdered by something otherworldly, Dylan says no thanks. He relents only after the connected slaying of his quippy sidekick, Marcus (Sam Huntington, previously Jimmy Olsen to Routh’s Superman). Happily, Dylan actually still has Marcus around to help, thanks to a quick visit to the undead morgue to get him off the slab and back on his feet.
As our heroes shuttle between a vampire-run nightclub, a werewolf-run meatpacking plant, and various undead haunts, the mystery turns convoluted — nothing new for noir homages. Still, a consistent string of little creative pearls delivered by director Kevin Munroe (2007’s Ninja Turtles revival “TMNT’’) and his writers will keep you from minding much. Take the gold fang adorning the grill of vampire baddie Vargas (Taye Diggs), or the zombies’ decay-fighting “body shop,’’ where they don’t just hook you up with a toupee, but the whole scalp. There’s also some dialogue with zing. Dylan, taunting a werewolf opponent: “You fight like a vampire.’’
Routh could use that bite more of the time. While he’s fine playing bemused and beleaguered, Routh can’t muster the edginess that Dylan is also meant to have. Diggs looks fabulous, but has his own problems with the dangerous stuff. It all becomes pretty glaring around final showdown time, and some overreaching effects don’t help. “Dylan’’ isn’t the dog you might guess from the way it bypassed major Boston-area theaters, but it’s lacking.
Tom Russo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.