Odd Thomas certainly lives up to its name.
I mean that as a compliment. Based on Dean Koontz’s bestselling novel of the same name, Odd Thomas stars Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, Fright Night) in the titular role. Odd possesses the unique ability to see dead people. He does not make his gift public for fear of being institutionalized like his mother. Instead, he takes matters into his own hands, utilizing his powers to hunt down wrongdoers as a self-proclaimed “undercover detective for the dead.”
The only people who are aware of Odd’s abilities are his girlfriend, Stormy Llewellyn (Addison Timlin, Californication), and police chief Wyatt Porter (Willem Dafoe, Spider-Man). In addition to the recently deceased, Odd is also one of the few who can see bodachs, translucent, shadowy creatures that are attracted to evil and only rear their ugly heads for the most disastrous and devastating of deaths. When the innocuous town of Pico Mundo, CA becomes unknowingly overrun by these beasts, Odd knows something big is going to happen. It’s up to him to find out what.
Given the unique subject matter, there is no way that Odd Thomas was an easy story to adapt into a script, to direct as a film or to find an actor who could pull off the lead role. Astonishingly, the movie succeeds with all three. Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, Van Helsing) directed and wrote the screenplay. I’m unsure how faithful it is to the source material (Koontz endorses it), but Sommers was able to hook me in with what I would consider his best effort.
Similarly, Yelchin is perfect as Odd Thomas. He handles the character’s vast idiosyncrasies with ease, effortlessly adapting to the movie’s varying tones. Dafoe seems to genuinely relish his offbeat role, and Timlin shows leading lady potential. Nico Tortorella (Scream 4) plays a police officer, while Patton Oswalt (The King of Queens) shows up for a fun, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role. All of the characters are quirky and likable, reminiscent of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. In fact, the entire production feels more like it was adapted from a comic rather than a book – and that is not a bad thing.
Odd Thomas is weird – no doubt about that – but not so much that it’s entirely inaccessible to the average moviegoer. I suspect its off-kilter style and inconsistent tone could turn off some, but those aspects are ultimately what make the movie so enjoyable. Its ability to seamlessly shift from white-knuckle intensity to lighthearted humor and back again is commendable. A truly genre-bending effort, it rolls together elements of sci-fi, thriller, mystery, action, comedy, horror and drama (that final scene!). Most of all, it’s refreshingly different.
Sadly, a legal battle resulted in the independent production suffering a long delay before its release. It was dumped in a few theaters and on VOD last month without much advertising behind it. Image Entertainment has now released it DVD and Blu-ray (both of which are disappointingly bare), where it will hopefully find it’s audience – because Odd Thomas deserves to be seen.