Odd Thomas (2013)
Director: Stephen Sommers
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Ashley Sommers, Leonor Varela
Synopsis: In a California desert town, a short-order cook with clairvoyant abilities encounters a mysterious man with a link to dark, threatening forces.
Based on the first of a series of books written by Dean Koontz (you know — America’s other prolific writer of horror), Odd Thomas was clearly intended to be the first of a franchise, but there’s not much chance of it taking off. The story takes place in the town of Pico Mundo, a calculated piece of Americana in which you can imagine Andy Hardy residing peacefully next to Marty McFly. But bad things are coming to Pico Mundo, and the only person who has an inkling about it — other than the perpetrators of evil — is the titular character (Anton Yelchin — The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!), an oddball short order cook to whom the dead come with their woes. The dead are mute, but Odd can see them so, as we see in the opening scenes, those who have been murdered use him as a means for achieving justice.
Odd can also see silvery creatures he calls Bodachs. Usually, one of them will be circling around someone close to death, but on one particular day Odd sees a whole host of them crawling all over a strange newcomer to town whom Odd christens Fungus Bob (Shuler Hensley) and realises that something catastrophic is about to befall his hometown. With the help of his improbably sexy girlfriend, Stormy (Addison Timlin) and surrogate father figure police chief Wyatt Parker (Willem Dafoe — White Sands) Odd begins a race against time to identify the exact nature of the danger that is about to engulf Pico Mundo.
There’s a lot going on in Odd Thomas, but the story lacks any real focus largely because, like Odd, we don’t know the exact nature of the threat to the town until the final reel or so. This means that, although there’s always a lot going on, the story never really feels like it’s going anywhere. Director Stephen Sommers creates a pleasing visual style, but the writing is too self-consciously quirky, and the tone of the movie is all over the place. The stylised dialogue and delivery is also a drawback, constantly reminding us that what we are watching is a work of fiction — one, it has to be said, into which those involved in its creation have put in a little too much thought.
Odd Thomas is never dull and is, in fact, consistently quirky and inventive, but it lacks any real punch, and seems to draw its inspiration from too many obvious sources.