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Dylan Dog
Reviewed by Larry Davis and Michael Davis, © 2011

Format: Movie
By:   Kevin Munroe
Genre:   Horror - comedy
Review Date:   May 06, 2011
RevSF Rating:   8/10 (What Is This?)

"There are no heroes in the world of zombies."

The advantage of not knowing the franchise is that you have no expectations and can watch the movie on its own terms.

The problem with not knowing the franchise is that you don’t know what is supposed to be there and not be there and what has changed so you can’t comment on those things for those who do know it.

“Guy Noir, detective, in the city that never sleeps.”

The words of Garrison Keillor are a particularly apt description of the idea behind this film. Dylan Dog (Brandon Routh) is a private detective in New Orleans, handling messy (and for him, boring) divorce cases. But we learn early on that he has retired from investigating troublesome incidents within the supernatural underworld of New Orleans. The Big Easy is described as the real "city that never sleeps," because of its extensive nightlife culture that has made it a haven for all sorts of undead creatures who are restricted to sunless hours.

A conversation with a potential client results in deadly consequences and propels Dylan back into his former role. He moves through the underworld searching for the who and why of murder(that’s the detective part) and we are introduced to a world of werewolves, vampires, zombies and ghouls.

"When you walk down the street, you think that everyone is like you, but they’re not.”

In the process, we learn what his former detective role was, why he left it, and why he is persona non grata to many of his former clients.

The film is full of well-thought out and inventive humorous touches: the automotive body shop that is a front for a body shop of a different sort, replacement parts for those who need them; the zombie support group to help recently-afflicted zombies adjust to their new life; the night shift in the morgue where all the staff are undead.

Are there are wonderful one-liners throughout the film. “There are no heroes in the world of zombies.”

Those humorous touches and the interesting characters that appear are what make the film truly worth seeing. There is some great acting by Peter Stormare as Gabriel but Sam Huntington as Marcus steals the show as Dylan’s sidekick who is introduced to the dark world in a particularly personal way. His journey of discovery and self-acceptance in his new life is a case where the subplot is at least as inventive and interesting as the main story.

Brandon Routh’s best moment in the film is at the beginning when he coolly confronts an armed intruder. Routh certainly cuts a good figure as Dylan Dog but he seems a little stiff in his delivery. Is that Routh, or the screenwriting, or is that deliberate?

Routh wants to sound like the old hard-boiled detective of the serials, but he is too smooth and never quite gets there. Still though, the structure of the film, Routh’s characterization of Dylan, and the lines and the voiceover narration (by Routh) effectively reproduce the sense of the old detective serials, modified for a different world.

Dylan Dog – Dead of Night was filmed in New Orleans. Especially worth noticing is the setting of a climactic encounter inside the magnificent New Orleans Saenger Theatre, the historic movie palace which was significantly damaged during the Katrina floods but which was made available for this film. It is a unique and incomparable setting for the conflict that takes place there.

Those familiar with the Dylan Dog of London will perhaps experience some dislocation anxiety, but setting this version in New Orleans succeeds quite well, and that, combined with the array of interesting characters and the successful storylines provides good entertainment.

Larry Davis and Michael Davis' city is on a regular sleep schedule, thankfully.

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