I was and still am an ardent fan of horror author Dean R. Kootnz. I first picked up a copy of one of his novels "Phantoms" from my brother’s room that was missing the cover and upon reading was instantly hooked. Having become more cinematically inclined I’ve missed some of his latter works and that would include the one upon which this movie "Odd Thomas" is based, but like any regular reader I can easily hear the Kootnz-esk speak within the Stephen Sommers written and directed film. Problem is I can also easily spot the not so subtle Sommers speak (Van Helsing anyone?!) and it’s in this fluffy film realm where the movie eventually loses its engaging voice.
Odd Thomas is a regular guy with a regular life. He’s a local fry cook with exceptional kitchen skills, has a girl he adores and a good friendship with the local sheriff. Problem is Odd can also see dead people. Lots of them. And they’re all looking for help in some way, so Odd is forced to do the work of the dead. He is able to spot trouble early based on seeing bodachs, ghostly apparitions that feed on pain and destruction. So when he sees a gaggle of them on an eerie stranger one day he knows something big is about to happen.
There are a lot of twists and turns within the story of "Odd Thomas" (some good, some bad), but honestly there’s just such an over abundance within the film that it feels like someone tried to cram this cinematic sandwich with way too many ingredients. The good stuff is not only the casting of pitch perfect Anton Yelchin as the interestingly Odd, but also his insightful narration that never distracts. In fact, the opening introduction to Odd and his world is by far best in show here, playing like "The Sixth Sense" meets "The Frighteners" with an interesting pace that moves with a very Koontz like zeal. (There’s some classic Dean dialogue to boot!) But in a very rough adaption that cries overload, the bad is most assuredly the films lack of focus. Even at a tight ninety-six minutes, "Odd Thomas" feels way longer then it should and it’s a classic case of too much info. So interesting characters like Odd’s lust de jour Stormy (played with hot gal zest via actress Addison Timlin) and Odd’s own curious abilities eventually become old, tired and by the end uninspired. (And yes, Willem Dafoe’s humble sheriff doesn’t benefit from the chaos either!)
It’s funny how being passionate in tackling a subject can sometimes backfire and in the case of Sommers adaptation of "Odd Thomas" the supposed clear vision was more then a little fuzzy. I understand the need and desire to want to please Kootnz (lord knows he hasn’t had a decent flick made out of his amazing books!), but to make a good film sometimes things need to get lost in translation.
"ODD THOMAS" HITS SELECT THEATERS AND VOD FEBRUARY 28 FROM RLJ/IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT.