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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Movie: Dylan Dog: Dead Of Night

No bark, no bite

Director: Kevin Munroe

Cast: Brandon Routh, Sam Huntington, Anita Briem

Rating: **

A private investigator as a ‘monster hunter’ is a sly allusion to the seediness lying at the heart of that profession. Its hero Dylan Dog, as envisaged by the writer of the Italian comic series on which this movie is based, was also a horror story protagonist given to concerns about society’s ills and anti-bourgeois rhetoric. Transported to New Orleans from London, Dylan sheds all that ‘baggage’ to be yet another flashy Hollywood gun-slinging, lip-curling, hip-swinging bad-guy buster to whom saving the world is as simple as dusting his old briefcase.

That briefcase is his signature style as is the ramshackle car he drives. However, Dylan as played by Routh (whose career graph has swung from playing Superman in Superman Returns to a bit role in Kambhakht Ishq) has nothing old-worldly about him. He is as suave as Hollywood super men go, not letting anything from vampires and zombies to werewolves and monsters crumple his favourite red shirt.

The story is about a trinket with powers that has gone missing. Living otherwise in perfect camouflage among the ‘true bloods’ or the ‘breathers’ — meaning you and me — they are now baying for blood. When the murders come to Dylan’s doorstep — his assistant Marcus (Huntington) is killed, only to wake up screaming in the morgue, as a zombie — Dylan emerges from ‘retirement’ to save the day.

Along for the ride, despite the horrors and the apparent danger, is Elizabeth (Briem), whose father has also been killed. As Dylan investigates everywhere from a butcher shop to a body shop where zombies buy parts that they have lost, Elizabeth comes along almost as equally unfazed.

There is a reason to this randomness, even though you needn’t worry too much about it. Something about the trinket containing a heart, to be combined with the blood of an ‘undead’, on a full-moon night, to create a brute with unimaginable powers — a tale going back centuries, all written down in a book hidden in a villa in some remote location that Dylan just flits in and out of. Dylan himself is a grey area, once appointed to arbitrate between the undead but who has now run foul of them.

Vampires sell their own blood in little vials which humans line up to buy at a club, while all potential disasters are treated with disdain by the fearlessly smiling Dylan. It’s nice that director Kevin Munroe doesn’t pile on the special effects, but in a film that expects you to be scared while constantly mocking those who do, you sorely miss a jaw-dropping moment. Dylan Dog neither barks, nor bites, it just growls now and then in the midst of a comfortable snooze. 

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