Odd Thomas, 2013
Directed by Stephen Sommers
Starring Anton Yelchin, Ashley Sommers, Willen Dafoe, Kyle McKeever, Shuler Hensley
In a California desert town, a short-order cook with clairvoyant abilities encounters a mysterious man with a link to dark, threatening forces.
Clearly trying to appeal to the Whedon crowd, Odd Thomas is the latest film from The Mummy and G.I. Joe director Stephen Sommers based off the best-selling book by Dean Koontz. Its quirky nature may irk some people and many will find the lead couple sickening, but the central storyline and charismatic lead performance puts Odd Thomas on a level above a lot of horror comedies.
Star Trek‘s Anton Yelchin plays the titual Odd Thomas, a man who is able to be contacted by the dead so that he can aide the police in solving their murder. Not only can he see dead people, but he can also see demons named Bodachs that crowd around death and feed on it. When he starts to see a whole army of Bodachs walking around his small town and crowding around one man, he realises that something big is about go down and along with his girlfriend Stormy (Stephen Sommer’s daughter, Ashley Summer) and Chief Wyatt Porter (a wonderful Willem Dafoe), Thomas tries to solve the puzzle, and save the town.
The film doesn’t have a distribution deal here in the UK and is apparently in massive legal disputes over in the US, holding it back from a full release. Despite a fairly good cast and a credible blockbuster director, the film is struggling to get off the ground, which is a shame as it is actually very good. Yelchin is perfectly cast as Odd Thomas and he gives a great performance that really sells you on the character and Ashley Summer is also pretty decent, especially for her first acting role. Their relationship on the other hand, could rub a lot of people the wrong way.
Their relationship is directed the way it is for a reason and is clearly designed to appeal to the teenage market, but Odd and Stormy’s relationship is sickeningly cute. You could argue that Summers is manipulating his audience for the movie’s climax and at times it can be a bit heavy handed, with every single line of dialogue between them further emphasising that they are madly in love with each other. It is easily the movie’s biggest crime as these two lovey dovey teenagers spout dialogue at each other that no real person would.
Not only is Odd Thomas trying to play to the teenage crowd, but it is playing up to fans of “quirky” and the movie often feels like a bigger budget extended episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Summers panders to the geek crowd with his script that, for the most part, works but often misses the mark. The story isn’t brilliant and can be telegraphed from the get go, but the characters are likeable enough and the lead performance is strong enough to keep you engaged until the end. At times Odd Thomas feels like it’s trying to hard to be quirky which can be quite annoying, but there is enough in there to like that you can forgive it for its simple flaws.
With a bit of luck, Odd Thomas will see the light of day as it does deserve to be seen. It might not be the best of Summer’s work and it is pretty flawed in places, but the movie is good enough that it will find an audience and play well to them. Yelchin is a joy to watch, the effects are decent and the story is a good fun ride. Some pandering and audience manipulation aside, Odd Thomas is a fun and quirky movie with a lot of heart.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Luke Owen is one of Flickering Myth’s co-editors and the host of Flickering Myth’s Podcast Network. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.