Odd Thomas (2013) — Who doesn’t see dead people at this point?

odd thomas

“I may see dead people, but by God I do something about it.”

Tom’s rating: The most fun I’ve had watching a train wreck in a while

Tom’s review: I didn’t know anything about the Odd Thomas book series by Dean Koontz when I watched this show. All I knew was that my wife and I kept giggling at the weirdly delivered dialog that sounded like it was written by a bad romance novelist. I suppose Dean Koontz is that novelist. Who knew?

I think that’s what ultimately got in the way of us enjoying the movie. We didn’t know it was a book. Odd Thomas’s internal monologue sounded overly flowery and dramatic, and pretty much every word that came out of Stormy’s mouth sounded like it came from an older generation. If I was reading it, it would have been forgiven and probably even enjoyed, but while I was watching it, it felt out of touch and laughable.

At a very base level, when Stormy says, “What’s with the cat-ate-the-canary smile?” It sounds like it’s being said by some middle-aged woman who’s watched too many soap operas, not a 20 something who serves ice cream at the mall. That said, in writing, a “cat-ate-the-canary smile” paints a great picture for the reader, but in movies you just show an actor with a cat-ate-the-canary smile and then say, “What’s with the smile?”

As for Odd Thomas, no one has an internal monologue that sounds like this: “This life is a boot camp that we must persevere, through all the obstacles and hardships, to earn our way into the next life. To be with her again, I will have the perseverance of a bulldog.” You might as well added a typewriter sound over the top of those lines they sound so authorly.

Outside of the dialog sounding like an old man wrote it, the movie was pretty, um, interesting. A clairvoyant hero on a moped is a fun idea I suppose. The horror of a mass shooting at a mall caused by Prince of Darkness cultists is also ok I guess. The CGI translucent bodachs that feed off of violent murderous acts had a pretty cool Stranger Things vibe to them.

Point blank, this movie wasn’t meant for me. This movie was meant for Dean Koontz fans and it probably succeeded on its mission statement.

I couldn’t even take the movie seriously in its most touching moment. When Odd Thomas is smooching his ghost girlfriend I turned to my wife and said, “You know what would have been hilarious is if they panned out to show him doing an air makeout while you had these three watching like it was completely natural.”

Ultimately it was a little like watching Tom Holland’s Spider-man mixed with an ABC Weekend Special about a boy who sees ghosts that was, as stated before, written by a bad romance novelist, which made it very watchable, but more in the train wreck of Teen Witch way than in any serious capacity. Now that I think about it, inclusion of a rap battle with Fungus Bob probably would have made this an instant cult classic for me.


Justin’s rating: An odd concoction indeed

Justin’s review: Last year, a friend recommended that I check out a series called Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz.  I’ve never been a huge Koontz fan, but I took a shot — and became addicted.  Over the course of a week I devoured six entries, one after another, and became one of Odd’s biggest fans.  The series juggled a bunch of fascinating ideas, including a quite likable lead character who has a set of supernatural abilities, a dark world full of freaky threats, and a bold mixture of horror, fantasy, science fiction, religion, and comedy.

So yeah, when I heard that there was going to be a movie directed by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy), I flipped.  I didn’t hold high hopes that it would be a smash hit, even less so after the film got held up from release due to legal entanglements, but in the end I’m glad it came out.

Odd Thomas introduces us to the titular character, a mild diner cook in a New Mexico town who has a few interesting abilities: he can see the dead, he can spot nasty spirits called bodachs, and he can track people down with “psychic magnetism.”  Usually he uses these skills to help bring justice to the deceased, but when a swarm of bodachs — who feed upon the suffering of others — come upon his town, he knows something horrible is about to go down.

In his race to uncover the unknown threat, Odd has the help of several of his devoted friends, including his soulmate Stormy and the local police chief Wyatt Porter.  Without spoiling the specifics, his adventures put him in contact with serial killers, a gateway to hell, disturbed ghosts, and visions of the future.  All of this comes crashing together in an event that will forever shake up this quiet town.

I think that there are two important aspects of Odd Thomas that need to be discussed. The first is the inevitable comparison to the book. For the most part, this is far more of a faithful adaptation than we could have hoped for. Sure, you can quibble over casting choices (I always have a hard time swallowing Dafoe as a good guy in any movie), but probably 80% of the book is brought to the screen, including many smaller details that I thought would have been left out or modified. There isn’t Elvis as a ghost, or the encounters with Odd’s parents, or the time-warping portal, but that’s all small potatoes. There’s also a bit of tweaking to make the bodachs more of a threat than they were in the book, but that was probably a good choice for a more visual medium. Anton Yelchin really nails the quirky psychic homeboy nature of Odd, and by the end I didn’t have any major complaints with the adaptation.

The other aspect is the directing itself.  Sommers has talent and that comes across well at points, but the entire movie feels far too rushed and thematically jumbled. There’s a lot of plot, characters, and concepts to explore, but the film barely gives you time to get used to any of them as it ping-pongs from one scene to another. Sometimes Sommers overcranks the camera, which is annoying, and keeps switching the tone of the movie with music and setting. That really works against the story’s gradual descent into horror and foreboding, taking some of the punch away from the climax.

However, I feel that Odd Thomas is a great candidate for a cult movie.  I’d rather have an imperfect assortment of cool ideas than a well-edited, technically polished dull film.  Wouldn’t you?


Didja notice?

  • The sped-up camera thing is a little overdone
  • Always cockroaches
  • As Odd leaves the hospital, one of the signs that is being held up says: “In Odd We Trust,” which is a graphic novel in the series

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