*** (out of 5)
February 28, 2014
Anton Yelchin as ODD THOMAS
Addison Timlin as STORMY LLEWELLYN
Willem Dafoe as CHIEF WYATT PORTER
Patton Oswalt as OZZIE P. BOONE
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as VIOLA
Nico Tortorella as SIMON VARNER
Shuler Hensley as FUNGUS BOB
Studio: Fusion Films
Directed by: Stephen Sommers
BY KEVIN CARR
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Back when I was in high school, I discovered the books of Dean Koontz, which I enjoyed so much that I voracious read as many as I could find over the next several years. I put Koontz and his work up at the top of the entertaining thriller pile with the likes of Stephen King.
However, unlike Stephen King, the works of Dean Koontz have not been treated well by Hollywood. (And that’s saying quite a lot, considering how many weak Stephen King adaptations have been made over the years.) When Koontz’s books did get adapted, they either ended up as TV movies or eviscerated and neutered versions of the novel, which we saw in the Corey Haim version of “The Watchers.”
I wouldn’t say that I outgrew Koontz’s books, but I stopped reading them sometime in the 1990s. The author is just so damned prolific, it was impossible to keep up. So, I never ended up reading any of the “Odd Thomas” books, though I was intrigued by the film itself.
The film adaptation of the first book “Odd Thomas” stars Anton Yelchin as the title character, a young man trying to live off the grid, using a special psychic power to make the world a better place. Odd has the ability to see dead people and demons. He uses the insights he gains from the dead to solve crimes and avenge the deaths of troubled ghosts. While working as a short-order cook, he learns that his small town is attracting a flock of demons that want to feed on misery. Odd figures there’s a terrible event that is bound to happen in town, so he tries to prevent things from happening and save the people who live there.
“Odd Thomas” is directed by Stephen Sommers, and considering the man’s history of blockbusters (e.g., “The Mummy,” “Van Helsing” and “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”) it’s odd in it’s own way that the film isn’t seeing a major theatrical release. Saddled with an On Demand and limited release, “Odd Thomas” isn’t quite given the chance it deserves.
Even if there’s nothing else positive to say about “Odd Thomas” the film, at the very least, it captures the feel and essence of Dean Koontz’s writing. Even though there are some seriously dark elements to these stories, there’s also a friendliness and familiarity with the characters. Yelchin does a fine job building rapport with the other main characters in the film, particularly his mentor policeman Wyatt Porter (Willem Dafoe) and his on-screen girlfriend Stormy Llewellyn (Addison Timlin).
Perhaps it’s part of the delivery of the film, but there are some elements that feel like a direct-to-video presentation. In particular, the almost too-cutesy interaction between Odd and Stormy seems a little forced at times. This leads into a critical plot element, so in the overall sense, it’s forgivable. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t expecting a rock-solid love story. Maybe it’s because Addison Timlin is just easy on the eyes. Either way, these character work well enough for what they need to accomplish on screen.
The effects work in the context of the film, mostly employed to show the demons gathering for the pending disaster. They’re not overdone, and visual effects have progressed enough to make things look more organic and less digitally plasticized.
The story kept me interested, and it’s essential Dean Koontz construction. There aren’t too many surprises if you’re familiar with this kind of story, but I was okay for that. The film works as an entertaining Saturday night thriller with plenty of effective atmosphere and some mystery.
It may not be a movie that would knock anyone’s socks off, but “Odd Thomas” is more enjoyable than most films that get the unfortunate sentence of doing time in the direct-to-video market.