Despite these hindrance of the starting Robbins doesn't give a entirely ineffective performance.. There is the overt and forced method of showing his character's mental trauma that is always there that keeps his performance at a certain distance. There is subtly to this performance as Robbins does show the man's problems through his eyes that show he always has been and what he was as a child, and that everyday is a challenge to get by because of what happened to him. There is an internalization of this by Robbins that moves past the surface posturing at least to some extent. It leaves his performance still not as natural as it should be, but there is some needed naturalism in there.
Robbins carefully does bring at least more in portraying the other sides past that trauma even though that is always a constant factor. I find Robbins does do a great job in making Dave seem three dimensional since his only character trait is not the trauma, he is a fully rounded man, that is just one of his features not his whole being. Robbins does find some honesty there, even with his mannered accent, even in the overly directed vampire scene Robbins still stays very strong as Dave. His best scene I feel though is at the very end where he can barely comprehend his situation. Robbins handles this scene well by showing the fear and trauma of Dave. There are moments still of just too much, but there is some power found in there. It also helps that Sean Penn actually dials it back a bit even for that scene. Robbins's performance overall has weaknesses as it is part of the ACTING that infects the film with so many of the performers. He is the best of the ACTORS though as he does find more in there, even if the method still is a touch too obvious.