Though virtually unknown in the United States, Dylan Dog has been one of Italy’s bestselling comic books since the 1980s. It’s an open question whether there’s anything about the nation’s mood or character to be read into an attraction to stories involving an eccentric, world-weary private eye with a tendency toward tragic romances, a specialty investigating the supernatural, and a sidekick who looks like Groucho Marx. The big-screen adaptation of Dylan Dog: Dead Of Night does little to answer that question. In fact, there’s not that much of Dylan Dog creator Tiziano Sclavi’s original creation left in this low-budget adaptation, which translates the action to New Orleans and spins it into a convoluted plot involving zombies, vampires, and werewolves and the fragile arrangement that allows them all to live in peace.
That would be fine if director Kevin Munroe (TMNT) and screenwriters Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer found something else interesting to do with all the Crescent City atmosphere and free-ranging undead. Instead, the film casts Brandon Routh as Dylan Dog and lets the likeable erstwhile Superman do his best impression of a jaded P.I., down to one of the most ineffectually boyish attempts at a grizzled voiceover in memory. It doesn’t work all that well, but it at least works better than the monster business, which alternates between leftover Buffy The Vampire Slayer ideas, baddies who look like they’ve been attired by costumeexpress.com, and dumb attempts at black humor. (The film hits a particular low point when Routh takes his frequently screaming zombie sidekick (Sam Huntington) shopping at a “body shop.”) Peter Stormare has fun engaging in some Walken-level scenery-chewing—almost literally—as the patriarch of a werewolf clan. Good for him. That means at least one person has found something to like about this tedious collection of wisecracks and hand-me-down monsters.