Synopsis: Small-town fry cook Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin) is an ordinary guy with a paranormal secret: he sees dead people, everywhere. When a creepy stranger shows-up with an entourage of ghostly bodachs – predators who feed on pain and portend mass destruction – Odd knows that his town is in serious trouble. Teaming up with his sweetheart Stormy (Addison Timlin) and the local sheriff (Willem Dafoe), Odd plunges into an epic battle of good vs evil to try to stop a disaster of apocalyptic proportions. Based on the best-selling thriller by Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas is a supernatural action thrill-ride from the acclaimed director of The Mummy and The Mummy Returns.
Odd Thomas 7.25
eyelights: the basic concept. the cast. its quirkiness.
eyesores: its generic mystery. the performances. the CGI.
“Have I ever told you you’ve got a lot of issues?”
Odd Thomas has a problem – besides his name.
He sees dead people.
But unlike some kids, he believes that he should use his sixth sense to do something about it. And so he tracks down the murderers in his midst. Problem is that he also sees bodachs, shadowy creatures that are drawn to death and carnage.
And if they ever find out that he can see them, they’ll come for him.
Thankfully, he has the support of Stormy, his girlfriend, whom he’s known since childhood and is destined to be with. He also has an ally in Police Chief Porter, who also knows of Odd’s abilities. He and Odd help each other on their cases.
But now they face a case that may be bigger than both of them: a strange man that Odd and Stormy nickname Fungus Bob walks into the diner that Odd works in and with him come bodachs. Soon Odd discovers a conspiracy to murder the townsfolk.
He just doesn’t know where and when.
‘Odd Thomas’ is a 2013 Stephen Sommers motion picture starring Anton Yelchin that’s based on a 2003 novel by Dean Koontz. I’ve never read the book, but this low-budget adaptation is an appealing mixture of supernatural suspense and quirky humour.
If one were to compare it to anything, it sort of falls in line with ‘Donnie Darko‘ and ‘The Chumscrubber‘. You know: self-consciously idiosyncratic, teen-oriented stories with a dark twist. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this had been intentional.
Unfortunately, it’s the least successful of the three. The script is perfectly fine, but it plays like an extended television episode or a well-produced feature-length pilot; it never really reaches the heights of a big budget big screen feature.
If anything, one gets the impression that the filmmakers were either trying to start a series of films (the ending certainly opens up the possibility) or they thought they’d make a feature film and then continue the story on the small screen.
But the picture doesn’t even give you the time to get involved with the characters, to discover them: thanks to Odd’s narration, we are basically briefed on all that we need to know right from the onset, as though checking off a checklist.
…after which, the picture proper can begin.
Don’t get me wrong: ‘Odd Thomas’ is relatively satisfying, but it’s not particularly original or exciting. The script certainly isn’t the problem; it works fine. But it never grips you and it doesn’t surprise you: it often telegraphs its “secrets”.
You just have to wait for Odd to figure it out.
Anton Yelchin is perfectly fine in the part but at no point does he perform naturally; you know the whole time that he’s not Odd Thomas – he’s Anton Yelchin playing Odd Thomas. The same can be said for most of the cast, in fact, as terrific as it is.
It may be due to the dialogues, which are unusually perfect – in the sense that everyone has the right thing to say, the perfect retort at the right time. None of it is ever really clever, it’s just that no real people have a flow like these people do.
This doesn’t help actors act naturally, of course.
It may also be a product of poor direction, but it could also be a product of its low budget (i.e. cheap cast). In fact, the production was apparently halted midway due to being out of funds. Ouch. This, in turn, might explain why the CGI effects are so crap.
And this is a huge problem, especially where the bodachs are concerned: as the spooky part of the picture, they need to be convincing, but they’re these poorly-rendered transparent creatures that are somewhat reminiscent of the aliens in ‘The Abyss’.
Except that it’s no longer 1989.
I’m not really sure what the filmmakers were going for, but it seems to me that they were aiming to make a mass market film for disenchanted youth. The fact that the finale is set in a mall, the altar of mass consumption, would suggest it.
I may sound like I’m down on it, but I found ‘Odd Thomas’ entertaining. And I enjoyed little touches like Odd and Stormy’s endearing dynamic or Odd’s philosophy of life (keeping his lifestyle simple to counter-balance his complex abilities).
I also rather like the fact that he was able to stop the bad guys with relative ease, with a single blow or bullet (after missing the first three times) instead having overblown, unending hand-to-hand combats or chaotic chases through town.
The opening encounter provided us with plenty of fisticuffs (and T&A), and the final confrontation was ridiculous enough to please some: Odd gets shot multiple times, can hotwire a truck in a blink and he drives off with a baddy hanging on.
But those were exceptions, thank goodness!
‘Odd Thomas’ becomes unfocused at times, as though the filmmakers were trying to find ways to extend its runtime, taking Odd off course from time to time, but it remained enjoyable nonetheless. It’s no grand cinema, and it could have been better.
But it’s nonetheless oddly entertaining.
Date of viewing: September 25, 2016