After a long delay due to legal issues, Odd Thomas is finally receiving a wider release later this month. Based on Dean Koontz’s bestseller, Odd Thomas revolves around a short order cook, played by Anton Yelchin, in a small town who is often sought out by ghosts to solve their deaths. When he’s jolted from his bed in the middle of the night by faceless people in bowling uniforms being gunned down, he knows something evil is coming. The stakes are raised higher by the CGI Bodachs, demons that feed off of death and carnage, that start accumulating in large quantities everywhere he goes. Odd Thomas, usually never seeing more than one at a time, realizes they’re on the brink of devastation. Using his supernatural gifts, Odd must hurry to prevent whatever catastrophe is about to befall the town.
Only two people know of Odd’s abilities: police chief Wyatt (Willem Dafoe) and girlfriend Stormy Llewellyn. Wyatt covers up for Odd whenever Odd happens to nab the bad guy in the midst of ghost duty, and also serves as a father figure. Stormy (Addison Timlin) is the quirky love of Odd’s life who worries about his safety. They serve as Odd’s allies as he bumbles his way through solving the mystery, using the Bodachs as a bread crumb trail.
Doesn’t sound bad, right? Unfortunately the film ends up being a convoluted mess that doesn’t seem quite sure what it wants to be. The movie opens at break neck speed, throwing you into the deep end of Odd Thomas’ life and ties to the supernatural. It feels almost like an MTV production- overly stylized with a trendy soundtrack while the plot isn’t nearly as polished. The film’s tone seems all over the place as well. Sometimes happy, sometimes funny, sometimes slightly dark. It adds to the confusion. As it barrels to the finish line from the get go, the dialogue has to constantly explain what you just saw and the exposition gets tedious. Any rules the film sets up early on are dismissed later on without explanation or consequence. For example, Odd pretends to not notice the Bodachs as, he explains in voiceover, they kill any one who can see them. So prepare to be confused later on when that rule is ignored.
Willam Dafoe is affable in his limited role, but the role of Stormy was puzzling. I assume she was meant to be quirky and strong minded, but the actress seemed only able to deliver the lines in such a perpetually perky way that it felt flat. Any scenes between Stormy and Odd were salvaged only by Anton’s genuine geniality that he brought to his role. It was thanks to him that any emotional scenes had any impact at all. Actually, Anton Yelchin is the glue that held this mess together. There are a few smaller cameos that I imagine had larger roles in Dean Koontz’s book, but held no meaning in the film.
Overall, Odd Thomas is hindered by the script. If you have to constantly explain to your audience what is going on via narration, then there’s something wrong. Character development was non-existent as well. Instead of cleaning up the narrative, style was slapped over it as a band-aid. The only positive was Anton Yelchin’s performance, keeping the film from floundering altogether.