It’s not odd; Thomas is quite entertaining!
Back when I had time to read, one of my favorite authors was Dean Koontz. In fact, one of my favorite novels to this day is Watchers, published in 1987. Sixteen years later, Koontz began a series of stories featuring a character named “Odd Thomas”. I have not read any of the nine (give or take a few) novels; however, everything I need to know about him is revealed in quick voiceover during the manic opening of the new feature film, Odd Thomas.
Played by Anton Yelchin (Fright Night, Star Trek), Odd is a young man who possesses two paranormal gifts: the ability to see dead people and a type of “psychic magnetism” that draws him toward them. A side effect of these gifts is that he sees creatures called “Bodachs”, monstrous harbingers of doom that feed on death and destruction. That’s how I interpret Odd’s abilities, anyway, but I’m not sure they’re as simple as all that.
By the way, his name really is “Odd”. Whether there was a misspelling on his birth certificate, as his philandering father told him, or it was his given name, as his psychotic mother told him, it’s the moniker he carries… as well as a description of his life. Odd is a fry cook by day, but in this movie, he and his girlfriend, Stormy (Addison Timlin), attempt to prevent the impending annihilation of their home town of Pico Mundo, California.
From the research I’ve done on the original novels, the movie version of Odd Thomas seems to be more faithful to the source material than the 1988 movie version of Watchers. (Actually, the bizarre miscasting of Corey Haim was the least of that movie’s problems.) What I don’t know is if it matches the tone. If it does, then the books are fast-moving, hyperkinetic thrillers with a heart. I quite enjoyed this movie.
For an idea of how Odd Thomas clicks along, consider the fact that it was written and directed by Stephen Sommers. Love ’em or hate ’em, he’s responsible for giving us The Mummy, The Mummy Returns and Van Helsing, all action movies masquerading as horror. Odd Thomas was made on an obviously lower budget than those spectacles; however, it shares the other movies’ love of CGI and its pedigree actually lifts this movie above the average straight-to-home video quality.
Actually, Odd Thomas would make a perfect Showtime series, and that’s a compliment. With shows like True Blood, Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad becoming more a rule than an exception, it’s no longer shameful to say a movie is of cable TV quality. In fact, Odd Thomas would make an ideal replacement in spirit for the dearly departed Dexter. If this movie doesn’t spawn a franchise, maybe it could act as a pilot for a series. But I’m jumping the gun…
There are three particular things I liked about Odd Thomas that made it feel original. One is that no time was wasted with an origin story. Another is that Stormy, as well as police Chief Porter (Willem Dafoe), were well aware of Odd’s talents. No time was wasted on the typical “keeping of a secret” subplot and the “coming out” during the adventure. Third is that even though I pegged the bad guy pegged from the moment I saw him, there were still plenty of twists and turns to come, especially with the ending.
Odd Thomas is not perfect… what movie is? It drags slightly during the second act. However, the first and third are so entertaining, you don’t really remember (unless you’re writing a review of it). If you like the popular trend of mixing comedy with horror, I think you’ll find Odd Thomas to be one of the better entries in the subgenre. I’d happily watch it again and, as previously stated, would love to see more of this unique character.