Stop me if you’ve heard this one. There’s a Secret World of Darkness hidden in the shadows of the one we live in. Vampires, werewolves, and zombies are real. Magic exists. Something is disturbing the peace between various factions. This same something theatens the world if it is released. The only thing between humanity and the end of the world is a lone mortal.
Is this Carl Kolchak? Buffy Summers? Harry Dresden? In this case, it’s Dylan Dog, the titular character of this adaptation of an Italian comic book. Dylan has all the hallmarks of the current wave of urban fantasy/horror movies. A strained relationship with the local supernatural community? Check. A doomed love affair with the wrong person? Check. As quick with a right hook as a sarcastic remark? Check. Dylan gets sucked back into the Secret World of Darkness when a case he’s working as a regular P.I. gets weird and kills his partner. He soon finds himself on the trail for an artifact that will shift the balance of power. Is it the werewolves that own a meat-packing plant? Is it the vampires who own a generic Gothic Vampire Dance Club franchise? Dylan and his partner, who is now dead and annoying, have to solve the case.
Brandon Routh is outside his comfort zone here and it shows. The script doesn’t help by giving him the bulk of the exposition explaining the rules of the world. It also saddles him with an unnecessary faux noir narration delivered in a sleepy monotone that makes Harrison Ford’s Blade Runner theatrical narration seem downright ecstatic by comparison. He spends most of the movie getting his butt kicked by various henchman in spectacular fashion but never spends anytime nursing his wounds or even remembering that he’s not Superman in this movie. A precious few moments of his aw-shucks charisma shine through, but not enough to save the movie.
The film shoots for the gleeful mania of a Tales From the Crypt episode. Most of the supporting cast understand the type of movie this wants to be. Peter Stormare brings his best Walken-esque quirkiness in a twitchy performance as the leader of the werewolves. Taye Diggs has fun as the sleazy vampire leader. Sam Huntington does his best shouty Will Farrel impression as Dylan’s newly undead partner.
The movie never gets out of neutral. The creature effects are minimal. Most of the CGI budget is spent on a final boss creature that still looks ten years old. Dylan gets two tacked-on love interests that serve nothing more than minor plot speed bumps. A few one-liners are chuckleworthy, but most of the black humor bits feel like ideas found in Joss Whedon’s trash can. The movie seems to know that it’s destined for the bowels of Netflix Instant or being played on basic cable ad nauseum. It has modest goals of entertainment and barely meets them. Not every film can expect to hit a home run, but it should at least put down its drink before it goes up to bat.