Odd Thomas (2013)
Starring Anton Yelchin, Willem Dafoe, Addison Timlin
Written and directed by Stephen Sommers
After a two-year legal battle to get Stephen Sommers’ latest supernatural thriller out in theatres, Odd Thomas is finally making its premiere at this year’s Toronto After Dark film festival, and fans of the novel written by Dean Koontz will definitely get a kick out of this genre bender as it stays true to significant portions of the source material.
Opening with a self-deprecating voiceover, Odd Thomas sets its quirky tone right off the bat by introducing viewers to Odd (Yelchin), a young, small town line cook who happens to have clairvoyant abilities—such as seeing ghosts. With the help of police chief Porter (Dafoe) and his annoyingly cute ice creamer scooper girlfriend (Timlin), Odd uses these skills to help avenge murdered souls and yet always remains under the radar and continues to live a seemingly normal life.
Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse when Odd notices a gargantuan number of creatures named bodachs (that are uncannily identical to the gravelings in “Dead Like Me”) gravitate to a strange man with a horrible hairpiece nicknamed “Fungus Bob.” (Shuler Hensley). Although bodachs are invisible to everyone else besides Odd, they are attracted to death, and considering the large number of them, Odd is convinced that Fungus Bob will be responsible for a mass murder and sets off to uncover the mystery at hand before chaos and tragedy hit the small town of Pico Mundo.
There’s no denying that Odd Thomas is fairly reminiscent of last year’s festival hit John Dies at the End; however, the salient difference between the two film adaptations is that fans of the popular book series by Dean Koontz will actually enjoy seeing the beloved characters come to life on the big screen; whereas, newcomers may be scratching their heads from the film’s peculiar and uneven tone.
As far as acting and casting goes, Yelchin is the perfect choice for the geeky yet “oddly” attractive protagonist and is able to capture the spirit of Odd Thomas to even the most miniscule detail. “Californication’s” Timlin also gives an endearing performance as Odd’s faithful sidekick/girlfriend, Stormy—despite being overly sexualized to meet Hollywood’s standards. Last but not least, Dafoe unsurprisingly steals every scene he is in with his small but pivotal role.
In spite of the big name talent involved in this project, “Odd Thomas” is not without its problems. First off, fans of the novel will be disappointed by the lack of Elvis—which may not seem like a huge grievance to newcomers but will feel like a slap in the face to fans. Also, a lot of the snappy dialogue from the book is lost in translation as it comes off a little too fast-paced, corny and “Dawson’s Creek-y” for this reviewer’s likings. Lastly, despite the over usage of CGI and a weird cameo appearance by The Mummy’s Arnold Vosloo, Odd Thomas, oddly enough, does not feel like a Stephen Sommers film. We do get a strong beginning and climax, but the entire second act lacks Sommers’ flair for entertaining action, and because of that it slightly loses it steam at the halfway mark.
Overall, Odd Thomas is still an engaging and witty addition to the Toronto After Dark lineup this year, albeit the 1997 made-for-TV movie Intensity is still the top Dean Koontz film adaptation if you ask this reviewer.
3 out of 5