Odd Thomas


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Odd Thomas
"It's down to Yelchin to convince us to care, and it's to his credit that he generally manages to pull this off."

An adaptation that sticks very closely to the plot of Dean Koontz's bestseller, this is a film that many fans seem delighted by but which throws the uninitiated in at the deep end, expositing wildly as it hurtles into the action. It's the story of Odd (Anton Yelchin), a young man who, post Sixth Sense, sees dead people, "and by God, I do something about it!" Working with the dead to bring killers to justice is a way of life for him, but he also sees bodachs, ethereal CGI beasties hungry for suffering, and when they begin to gather in his town in great numbers, he realises something is about to go horribly wrong.

This is a film that packs in more story than it knows how to handle. It's never slow but it struggles to maintain a sense of coherence and to build up tension. What it does cut out is the background material that introduced and made some sense of Odd's strange talents, so we're left in a situation where he seems able to pull out something new whenever he's in difficulty, making it hard to believe he's ever really in danger. Hampered by the clumsy script, it's down to Yelchin to convince us to care, and it's to his credit that he generally manages to pull this off, substituting for substance with charm.

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As his girlfriend Stormy, Addison Timlin is a lightweight, with a paper-thin character whose only trait seems to be that she's beautiful (pointed out several times in case we miss it). Fortunately, the other major supporting role - that of the police chief who knows Odd's ability and deftly works alongside him - is filled by Willem Dafoe, whose sly charisma gives the film much-needed depth. Needless to say, he steals every scene he's in.

Some have suggested that the film's weak script and flimsiness is the reason why, despite some success on the festival circuit, it hasn't enjoyed a wider release. This is a little unfair; unfortunately for it, its climactic horrors are uncomfortably close to real life incidents that happened after it had been completed, making it a hard sell. It is, however, likely to suit the DVD market, which lends itself better to curious little films with devoted fan followings. Although the production is a bit slipshod and the monsters not up to much, there are some nice touches, such as the ability of things others can't see to block Odd's vision of what they can see, and the fact he can't always tell who's dead and who isn't, giving him many of the problems faced by people who suffer from hallucinations.

In spirit, this has something of the DIY ethic and cheerfulness that made Kick-Ass so endearing. Despite its incoherence, it's liable to win quite a few supporters, especially if they already love the book.

Reviewed on: 12 Feb 2014
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Odd Thomas sees murdered dead people and feels it’s his duty to make the people responsible pay for their sins. He works with the local police chief but one day he encounters something that may be too big for either of them to handle.
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Director: Stephen Sommers

Writer: Stephen Sommers, based on the novel by Dean Koontz

Starring: Anton Yelchin, Willem Dafoe, Shuler Hensley, Patton Oswalt, Addison Timlin

Year: 2013

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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