Dylan Dog: Dead of Night was a failure at the box office, but despite that I still had some optimism for the film. It stars Brendon Routh, whom I think could be a big deal if he had the right roles, and is based on an incredibly popular neo-noir Italian comic book series. Unfortunately the film falls flat in many ways, mostly due to staging, editing, and some terrible writing.
Brandon Routh plays the titular Dylan Dog, a private investigator with a troubled past. In a previous life he was an appointed liaison between the undead and the humans, or ‘breathers’ as they call us. Dylan left his liaison role after he takes vengeful revenge on some vampire elders when he discovers his girlfriend dead in their club. He is now working as a bottom level Private Investigator looking at the typical cheating husband and blackmail cases.
His undead free existence is challenged when he is asked to help a young woman, Elizabeth (Anita Briem), find the creature that killed her father. Dylan immediately recognizes that her father was killed by a supernatural creature and backs out from the case, unwilling to re-visit his past. When his overly helpful and actually quite funny partner Marcus (Sam Huntington) is killed by the same creature Dylan resolves to step back into his old life and and track down the killer. Marcus eventually comes back to life as a zombie (of course) and proceeds to introduce us to the world of zombie food, body repair and counseling (seriously).
Once Dylan tackles the case he discovers that the werewolves (whom he has a history with) were protecting a relic that Elizabeth’s father was importing and the vampires want it so they can create an unstoppable creature. The vampires are now led by a modern club owning vampire named Vargas (Taye Digs) who peddles human enhancing vampire blood (HBO may want to sue) and wants to rule the undead. Dylan eventually becomes embroiled in a fight to stop Vargas and restore stability between the breathers and the undead.
The movie itself is a convoluted mess with so many side plots, contrived occurrences, and hollow surprises, you almost need crib notes to keep track of everything. Dylan himself is barely explained, and what could have been a rich character is reduced to small flashbacks and some horribly written voice overs.
The other characters are handled equally poorly. Elizabeth has a hidden history that is badly executed and transparent, and Vargas is as one dimensional as it comes. Only Marcus and the other zombies are amusing and interesting characters.
The action is poorly staged and the movie itself ends in with the final confrontation between Dylan and the big bad enemy resolving itself in a disjointed way. Dylan holds his own with some interesting weapons at times (silver knuckle dusters against a werewolf) and at other times he tries to fight hand to hand against monsters. The editing, writing and staging is simply a mess and takes away from the movie greatly. It is a shame because with better writing and slightly darker grittier tone Dylan Dog: Dead of Night could have been interesting, as it is the movie is a derivative take on the monster genre.
Shot in 35mm and presented as a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer Dylan Dog: Dead of Night looks exactly average on Blu-ray. Nothing pops but it is a competent transfer, as it was filmed in 35mm you do have a nice film grain look, and thankfully they did not seem to overuse DNR on the print. The black levels are both excellent and spotty if you observe them throughout the film. At times they are inky dark yet in the following scene they are grey and muddled. Color levels and textures are adequate which is a shame because if they could have made the visuals stand out the film would have benefited greatly.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is the best part of the package and while not perfect it does a great job of bringing you into the film aurally. The center channel is used excellently and dialogue is clearly heard at all times, even in crowded club scenes. Ambient noise is well handled and your rear speakers get a nice range of traffic from background chatter, light music and sound cues. The bass is well represented with deep thrums when the scene calls for it. The only issue is there isn’t enough on the soundtrack. While everything there is done well there are spots that the sound is subdued, but otherwise a great mix.
There are no extras on the Blu-ray, not even a trailer. I have rarely never seen a disc, except maybe in the first months of Blu-ray, that had no extras at all. It is frankly shameful in this day and age and shows the lack of confidence the studio seemed to have in the film.
The Bottom Line
Dylan Dog: Dead of Night is a flawed movie in a substandard package and that is a true shame. The movie itself had potential but a combination of bad writing, subpar action scenes and sloppy editing makes the movie a bit of a mess. If effort had gone it to making the movie visually appealing or if some extras/commentaries were included this could have been turned around a bit. Instead the Blu-ray release was seemingly prepared without effort and it shows in the final product.