Saturday, 14 June 2014

Odd Thomas (2013)

Based on a popular book by Dean R. Koontz, Odd Thomas is written and directed by Stephen Sommers, and shows that he's still capable of churning out some fine entertainment. Hey, I'm a fan of Sommers, but even I have to admit that some of his later blockbuster works don't hold a candle to the sheer b-movie fun of Deep Rising.

Anyway, let's get on with the review. Anton Yelchin is the titular character, his name really IS Odd Thomas (due to an error made while he was being registered), and he can see dead people. More than just dead people, he can also see creatures that flock around evil individuals when they know that death and horror could be on the horizon. Those creatures are known as bodachs, and Odd doesn't ever want them to know that he can see them, because if bodachs know that someone can see them then they tend to try to engineer the death of that individual. And, guess what, a whole load of bodachs have just swarmed into town with a man who is obviously planning something big. Odd tries to protect his girlfriend, Stormy (Addison Timlin), while also ensuring that everyone else stays safe. Stormy knows what Odd can see so she's happy to help as he tries to work out just what will be going down, and where. The local police chief (Willem Dafoe) also wants to help, and also knows about Odd's gift, but has to keep it a secret.

I've not read any of the Odd Thomas novels, but I have skimmed through some excerpts while reading some of Koontz's other works and the movie seems to get the tone just right. It's a very quirky piece of work, with a central character - Odd works as a short order cook as a way to enjoy some normality on a day to day basis - as likable as he is troubled. Sommers does a great job in both the scripting and directing departments, keeping everything light and entertaining while also building a sense of real danger as things build towards a finale that looks likely to change the lives of everyone involved.

I'm a big fan of Yelchin, and will happily watch him in anything, and he's great in the lead role here. Odd has some special talents, but he's no superhero, and Yelchin embodies a perfect mix of the main characteristics, in terms of personality, physicality and, yes, quirkiness. Timlin is very sweet and easy to like, a young woman worthy of the love that Odd has for her, and Dafoe is solid, and more reserved than usual, as the man trying to help Odd while also trying to avoid offering others an explanation that will get them all sent for brain scans.

It may fall a bit short for some people - not scary enough for horror fans, too quirky for fans of straight thrillers, not funny enough for fans of horror-tinged comedies - but I thought it managed to weave everything together nicely, creating something that uses a lot of familiar elements and turns them into a final product that's pleasingly, albeit only ever-so-slightly, different from the norm.


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