Film noir is combined with horror to zero effect in “Dylan Dog: Dead of Night,” based on an obscure Italian comic book. Starring Brandon Routh in the titular role of a New Orleans private investigator who specializes in dealing with the vampires, zombies and werewolves that apparently populate the city’s streets—hasn’t it suffered enough?—this would-be franchise is stillborn.
Dylan, whose business card reads “No pulse, no problem,” gets embroiled in a case involving a comely young blonde (Anita Briem) whose father was killed by a werewolf. Along with his sidekick Marcus (Sam Huntington), he soon finds himself battling the various demons of the night, armed with his silver knuckles for werewolves and guns loaded with wooden bullets for vampires and dum-dum bullets for zombies.
Marcus quickly finds himself a quick casualty, only to be brought back to life as, naturally, a zombie. His newfound state leads to the film’s few laughs, such as when he rebels against the standard zombie diet—for the non-cannibalistic variety at least—of maggots and worms. He’s also helpfully assured by Dylan that “the condition is manageable.”
The film has inexplicably snared some good actors to fill out the supporting roles, including Peter Stormare as a werewolf and Taye Diggs as the vampire owner of a nightclub whose specialty of the house is vampire blood.
But genuine thrills are in short supply, with cheesy special effects, awkwardly staged battles and monster get-ups that look like they were rented from the nearest Halloween shop giving the production a cheap, direct-to-DVD feel.
The New Orleans locations, naturally centered on the old French Quarter neighborhood and the city’s famed cemeteries, do add some appropriately spooky atmosphere.
The terminally bland Routh brings little conviction or energy to his portrayal, failing to provide the sort of sly humor that might have made the proceedings more bearable.
I wanted to enjoy “Dylan Dog: Dead of Night,” if only because films of this ilk are rarely produced anymore. However, it’s a bust. An extraordinarily talky, tedious, unmonstery bust.
Grade ★ ★ out of 5 stars
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