Movie Review – Odd Thomas

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Movie Review – Odd Thomas
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Odd Thomas
Comedy, Horror, Mystery
Fusion Films, Image Entertainment, The Sommers Company
February 28th, 2014
Release length: 1:40:00
Back in 2003, Dean Koontz published a book titled Odd Thomas. It is the first in a growing line of novels about the character with the same name and his ability to understand and help the dead. Ten years after its publication, Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, Van Helsing) adapted it into a screenplay, as well as helmed directorial duties for this venture. It didn’t take long for the film’s late February release to earn a mixture of moderate praise and scathing negativity from viewers and critics alike. But is this representation of the first entry into the series a worthy one to fans and newcomers alike, or is it a major flop that singles one or both groups out?

Odd Thomas Odd (Anton Yelchin) is just your small-town fry cook who, like his mother, is also a clairvoyant. He is able to see the dead and does what he can to help them move onto the next life. This skill is illustrated through a great deal of narration and scenes of his past when touched upon. One of the most important is of his mother being locked away in a psych ward for apparently having these same powers, which leads to Odd adopting a simple lifestyle and keeping his “gift” mostly to himself in order to not get locked up in a mental institute. There are a few close knit people in his life that do know what he can do, which includes his love interest Stormy Llewellyn (Addison Timlin), Chief Wyatt Porter (Willem Dafoe) and his wife, as well as Viola Peabody (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). Odd also has a rage that grows inside him when he confronts someone who killed the spirit looking for his help, much like the case of Penny Kalisto (Ashley Sommers) at the start.

Much of the film plays out as an investigation into a vision of a murder spree within Pico Mundo. It is revealed to Odd in a series of events including visions of a murdered bowling team, Viola’s dream and seeing her own death, as well as a large group of bodachs that are suddenly swarming the town and following a moss-haired stranger named “Fungus” Bob Robertson (Shuler Hensley). Odd only has until the fifteenth to put together the pieces to have him arrested and prevent the impending senseless slaughter, all the while using the bodachs to solve the mystery without making them know he can see them. As everything unfolds, he learns there’s more going on than what was first thought. Hell gates, a satanic cult, and even the bodachs create a race against time to prevent the massacre and keep everyone safe, especially Stormy.

Odd Thomas

The plot itself isn’t too bad overall but does have a good deal of faults. The main issue is that it’s a pretty basic concept that later heavily relies on random sudden twists to keep the tension alive. The inclusion of a Satanic cult and the cheap stereotypical Christian beliefs on them and their apparent acronyms are laughable. It also doesn’t help that while the dialogue and some editing is pretty tight and effectively gets the point across, the story seems to just move too fast. Time is even shaved off by expecting you to know who most of the minor characters are that lack any real introduction or background, not to mention how Odd wound up working with the police to begin with. It’s like if an hour long television drama like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Supernatural mated with a sixties animated series like Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends or Space Ghost and this was the end result of that conception.

But those really end up the only major complaints of the film. The production values are surprisingly top notch, and the high definition looks fantastic. There are some bad computer effects at times that appears where practical effects could very well have sufficed. Almost any scene with explosions or projectiles suffer from this. Odd ends up with a confrontation in Bob’s house, which leads to an explosion that sends the fridge into the air, landing next to Odd who is already in the car and ready to drive off. But the visuals of the transparent bodachs are very well executed, especially when they swarm out of the hellgate towards the end and appear as if ants flooding out of an anthill.

Odd Thomas

There isn’t much to say about the acting for the most part. Anton captures the ordinary nature of Odd Thomas quite well, putting on a performance you could compare to the laid back nature of the Randal from the first Clerks film, and Willem Dafoe is clearly having fun with his character without going Spider-Man overboard. Officers Simon Varner (Nico Tortorella) and Bern Eckles (Kyle McKeever) come off like normal young rookies who enjoy the small perks of the job including abuse of power. However it’s Addison Timlin’s performance that is both rough around the edges, yet perfectly suiting for the character of Stormy. The dialogue between her and Odd is often quick and comes off a bit too scripted to be natural. There are times where she delivers lines almost as if reading directly from the script. But then there are moments where she perfectly plays the role of a long time love interest. She’ll talk to him over the phone at work while he’s investigating, she shows genuine concern for his safety, even acting like what he sees in just part of another normal day. All of this makes falling for Stormy as a character pretty easy, but holding back tears at the very end much harder.

Odd Thomas

While the story itself does have issues with pacing, random red horrings that just keep coming at you about an hour in, as well as its expectations that you know some of the minor characters and how everyone plays into Odd’s life, Odd Thomas makes for a well executed cross of The Sixth Sense and The Frighteners. Given Stephen Sommers past successes, if anyone could bring this tale of supernatural themed Horror, Comedy and Mystery to life, it would easily be him. His signature production style accentuates every passing frame with a sleek and ominous representation of hell coming to California. As a whole this feature ends up a solid film that easily appeals to a broader audience than the teenage demographic it clearly was intended to hit. If you’re looking for something a little light hearted with a decent amount of action and character development for date night, on your own, or even to just sit down with the family, Odd Thomas is a film that shouldn’t be so quickly passed up.

Overall Score: 7/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by personal funds.