When a director’s past work includes The Mummy (1999), The Mummy Returns (2001) and Van Helsing (2004), it is easy to perhaps write said director off as someone who does popcorn summer films with no real heart or soul to them. Stephen Sommers, who directed the aforementioned movies, stood behind the big camera once more for Odd Thomas, a film based on the “Odd” series by author Dean Koontz. I was a little concerned that perhaps we would be dealt another one of those corny and abrasive throwaway films here, a shame due to the interesting series of books and the potential they offer the film medium.
Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin) is a short-order fry cook in a small American town, a fairly average guy in some ways, Odd also carries a paranormal secret that effects his day to day existence. He can see and speak with the dead, a “gift” that Odd applies to assist a local Chief of police (Willam Dafoe) in murder cases. When Odd sees a creepy guy named “Fungus Bob” hanging around town surrounded by a cluster of other-worldly demons, he begins to sense that something terrible is about to occur in his little hometown and so he begins to investigate. The inquiry leads him into a number of dangerous and bizarre situations that he attempts to fathom and fix before any disastrous events happen all while trying to balance his normal life and his relationship with his girlfriend Stormy (Addison Timlin).
I was immediately hit by the stylish cinematography and visuals of this film, the way the camera moves and the fast paced nature of the shots. There is a knowing and humorous tone to the film throughout and it works really well, with its tongue firmly in cheek but without becoming farcical, the film avoids being cliché and instead feels fresh. Yelchin does a fantastic job as the awkward and anxious Odd and he carries the film on his shoulders very well. I thought that Timlin, as Stormy, was a revelation and her spunky and sarcastic character brought a breath of fresh air to the film at times when it was definitely needed. Dafoe, though not necessarily a standout gave a fine performance and it was nice to see him in a warm role. The cast, which also features some other fairly well-known names, do a great job here.
I think this might have worked much better as an episodic television show, like Bates Motel or True Blood, and while I really did enjoy the film it felt like it crushed an awful lot of content into its 97 minute running time. I’m not sure if a sequel is in the works, another reason this would have worked better on television, but I hope we do see one. This didn’t, for some weird reason, make it to cinemas in the UK, and has flown under the radar for a film of its quality. I think this would appeal to a lot of people yet I seem to encounter many who didn’t even know it existed.
A dark-comedy-fantasy horror-thriller, Odd Thomas is part of a genre that is really hot right now and the story is far superior to many of the bland teenage fantasy films we have seen bouncing around cinemas and DVD stores recently. In a similar way to the Peter Jackson film, The Frighteners (1996), Odd Thomas takes horror and comedy and puts them perfectly into a blender, mixing the two in a successful and exciting way. It isn’t perfect and it felt rushed at times, but with a cast that put their hearts into it, and a twisty plot that keeps you interested right until its final moments, Odd Thomas is definitely one to seek out and watch. Let’s hope more people think this way and we see another film featuring Mr. Thomas.