Review: ‘Odd Thomas’

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Odd Thomas is no more a Horror movie than Ghostbusters. I’m not saying it’s as good as Ghostbusters, just drawing a parallel.  Both films deal with the supernatural and an impending event of apocalyptic proportions, but both are family-friendly and designed to please mainstream moviegoers.  Sure, Odd Thomas packs a couple of jumps, but Ghostbusters is actually the scarier of the two films.  The reason I’m writing about it on my Horror blog is because this film is something that aficionados can enjoy along with their less adventurous (i.e. scaredy-cat) friends.

Written, directed, and co-produced by Stephen Sommers, Odd Thomas is based on Dean Koontz’s novel of the same name.

Check out my review after the jump.

Official 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.

Wondering why this big budget, FX-driven mystery with several big name actors (hello, Willem Dafoe) never had a theatrical release?  Behind the scenes reports indicate that production was a big mess.  Filming is said to have temporarily halted before completion due to financial shortfalls.  Then, once it was finished, release of Odd Thomas was delayed indefinitely due to a lawsuit; Two Out of Ten Productions and Fusion Films allege that Outsource Media Group reneged on promises spend $25 million in promotion (along with $10 million to partially refinance certain loans).  Hmm, maybe that’s why most people don’t even know this film exists. Ya think?

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The production is top-notch throughout. Action scenes are filmed music-video/Matrix-style with slow-motion battle sequences and thumping electronica. And while I’m normally opposed to CGI FX on principle, they actually work well in Odd Thomas. The “bodachs”, translucent snotty insect-like demon creatures, would have been difficult to convey with practice effects.  The filmmakers made smart choices and showed great restraint in deciding where and when to use CGI, making excellent use of their FX budget.

Odd Thomas is an interesting fellow and Anton Yelchin plays him well.  The titular main character is, in essence, a psychic detective—a paranormal Encyclopedia Brown, if you will.  He has this amazing ability called “psychic magnetism” which means he instinctively knows where trouble is brewing; even when he doesn’t know where he supposed to be going, he’s always exactly where he needs to be.  Very convenient for a young detective (and quite a practical tactic for maintaining a good story telling pace).  It’s always good to see the eternally creepy Willem Dafoe in a movie, and he plays Chief Wyatt Porter with his usual skill and commitment. Still, the part is pretty vanilla for an actor with such an extensive range.  So while it’s not Dafoe’s greatest role, the film is definitely enhanced by his presence.

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I haven’t read the Dean Koontz novel, so no comment on how well this film adheres to or elevates the source material. Nonetheless, Odd Thomas feels like one of those movies adapted from a comic book or a graphic novel (and hey, it turns out there actually IS a series of graphic novels based on Koontz novel—which I am also completely unfamiliar with).  It’s a world where gateways to Hell are not unheard of and no one worries about leaving fingerprints at a crime scene. In other words, don’t take anything too literally and don’t dwell on plot holes or inaccuracies. This is more like a Scooby Doo mystery than an episode of CSI.

In it’s deepest moments, Odd Thomas touches on themes of fate and free will, but mostly maintains a whimsical Mallrats vibe throughout.  The cynic in my groaned at the cheesiness of the conclusion, but the film lover in me has to admit: The final twist was unexpected and really fucking beautiful.

So like I mentioned at the get-go, Odd Thomas is not a Horror movie, so don’t expect any bloodbaths.  Still, it’s a fun, well-made supernatural romp that probably could have been a hit with the PG-13 crowd (were it not for the behind the scenes drama previously discussed).  While Sommers clearly has franchise aspirations (setting Odd up for a sequel), the fact that production was a disaster and promotion was non-existent has no doubt doomed any potential continuation.

In summation: You might not get your Horror yah-yah’s off, but Odd Thomas is some good looking supernatural bubblegum.

2.5 out of 5 Skull Heads.

Trailer: HERE 

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Release Date February 28 2014
Studio Image Entertainment
Director Stephen Sommers
Writer Stephen Sommers, Dean Koontz
Starring Anton Yelchin, Addison Timlin, Willem Dafoe, Nico Tortorella, Patton Oswalt, Gugu Mbatha-Raw
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About Saucy Josh

I write a blog for intelligent Horror movie aficionados called Blood and Guts for Grown Ups: https://bloodandgutsforgrownups.wordpress.com/ View all posts by Saucy Josh

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