Odd Thomas

Year: 2013
Production Co: Fusion Films
Director: Stephen Sommers
Writer: Stephen Sommers/Dean R Koontz
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Addison Timlin, Willem Dafoe, Arnold Vosloo, Patton Oswalt

Odd Thomas is actually his name, as Odd (Anton Yelchin) explains during one of his many expositional voiceovers. It was supposedly Todd, but a mix-up on his birth certificate landed him with the distinctive moniker.

And it's a good thing he got it, because it suits Odd's life and special powers down to the ground. Everyone close to him - from the friendly police chief (Willem Dafoe) grateful for Odd's help but endlessly frustrated at his heroics to Odd's beautiful and understanding girlfriend Stormy (Addison Timlin) - knows about Odd's powers and take them in stride.

To begin with, dead people visit Odd to tell them what happened to him, making him extremely useful in missing person cases. But he also has a special appreciation of impending death itself, which he sees thanks to strange extra-dimensional creatures called bodachs, invisible to everyone else but who hang around those about to die like flies around rotting meat.

And thanks to them appearance of more bodachs than he's ever seen before, suddenly it seems Odd, Stormy and their idyllic California home town of Pico Mundo will soon be the scene of a slaughter.

The race is on to stop what looks like a mass murder at the local mall, due to take place only hours away. Odd has to use his gifts and some everyday detective work, getting as much help as he can while trying to keep everyone he loves out of harms way before disaster strikes.

There's a lot going on in Odd Thomas, and as a whole the film isn't terribly successful because of the tone. Despite some scenes of shocking gore that make it too rough for kids under about 13, it's still not sure if it's a horror comedy or some sort of paranormal detective story. It isn't so much that the tone isn't suitable for the material, it's just that there really isn't one at all. It's not funny enough with some scares to offer or scary enough with some gags to offer.

There are some talented actors in the cast, but they either don't really have the skill to deliver the script as it was written or the script itself needed to sound a little less like hard work coming out of their mouths.

And just when you think it's all going to end up a forgettable mess, everything wrong with it is almost completely redeemed by the ending, a very gutsy move owed more to author Dean R Koontz (who wrote the source novel) than the script, but one we need plenty more of. There are far too many pat happy endings across all genres and even though one that goes against the grain might upset you, you'll remember it far longer than the million other generic get-the-girl-and-ride-into-the-sunset moments.

The other interesting thing about Odd Thomas is its director. Yes, that's the same Stephen Sommers whose name's on a library list of overstuffed turkeys like The Mummy franchise (including the ill-advised spin-off The Scorpion King) and GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra. He's not a completely different filmmaker with a budget of only $27m – there's still quite an overabundance of CGI – but he has to rely on things like 'plot' and 'character' a little more than he ever has before.

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