Odd Thomas DVD coverDirector: Stephen Sommers
Screenplay: Stephen Sommers
Based on the Novel by: Dean Koontz
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Addison Timlin, Willem Dafoe, Shular Hensley
Year: 2013
Country: USA
Running Time: 95 mins
BBFC Classification: 15

Based on the Dean Koontz novel of the same name, Odd Thomas, the film, is a fair adaptation of the book, although, like most book to screen adaptations, it doesn’t quite match its source inspiration in overall satisfaction levels. Having read the novel a couple of years ago I was looking forward to seeing what Steven 'The Mummy' Sommers had done with it and it turns out that he has created a decent, but not overly inspired, version of this interesting story.

Odd Thomas is a short-order cook at a bar and grill in a small Californian town called Pico Mundo. He tries to keep his life as simple as possible in the real world as he’s gifted (or cursed – take your pick!) with being able to see and communicate with dead people. These ghosts tend to crave his help since many of them have died violent deaths and therefore need him to bring their killers to justice. Odd can also see weird demonic creatures, he calls Bodacks, that are attracted to people who are about to either die a horrific death or who are about to commit a violent act. It’s these creatures that lead him to start to follow a stranger to the town, who he is convinced is about to kill a large number of people.

After rapidly introducing Odd and his weird abilities, seeing him lay one ghost to rest by apprehending her murderer, and seemingly crow-barring in his sweet romance with his girlfriend Stormy, the rest of the film sees him and Stormy trying to fathom out where and how all these people will die and trying to stop it all coming true.

As you might expect quite a lot of the more subtle character traits and much of the more general characterisation that one can have in a novel has been lost here, but to Sommers’ credit he still manages to put enough skin on the bone for us to actually warm to the main characters and root for them as evil really does come a knocking at the town’s doors.

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Sadly one of the things that does get lost a little is why Stormy and Odd have such a strong and sweet relationship, and unfortunately the result of this is a rather unrealistic sickly sweet coupling, which is rather unfortunate as how you react to the ending depends on how much you’ve invested in their relationship, and if, like me, you found their relationship to be a little fake then the finale’s impact is considerably lessened.

In fact my main criticism of the film is that it all feels a little rushed and I’m hoping that somewhere out there exists a much more sedate director’s cut where we can get to know the characters more deeply before events really take off. In fact Odd’s relationship with the Police Chief, played here by Willem Dafoe, suffers somewhat and it seems that the Chief takes Odd a bit too seriously with too little explanation; we’re just expected to accept that’s the way it is.

What’s also missing for much of the time is a proper sense of time and place, although I have to admit many of the locations are well chosen and the overall ‘look’ of the film is very good. Sommers’ direction is good overall and I think he did a reasonable job of visualising the demons that infest the town with the arrival of ‘Fungus Bob’.

I didn’t find Odd Thomas particularly scary, but there are a few unsettling moments and a couple of tense scenes, aided by some good sound design, which will give your speakers a good workout!

Overall Odd Thomas holds the viewer’s interest and is a fairly faithful adaptation to the book and consequently fans of the books will, I think, enjoy the film. I, for one, hope that Sommers will be able to make more Odd films going forward…

Reviewer: Justin Richards

Odd Thomas has just been released on DVD and is being distributed by Metrodome. Unfortunately there were no extras on the review disc, although I, for one, would have liked to have seen some ‘behind the scenes’ stuff to accompany the film. A few interviews with the director and some of the principle cast members would have been nice.

About The Author

Justin Richards is a journalist by day and a scriptwriter by night. His work has appeared in the darker recesses of the internet and in various niche publications including ITNOW, The Darkside, Is it Uncut?, Impact and Deranged. When he’s not sitting hunched over a sticky, crumb-laden keyboard he’s paying good money to have people in pyjamas try and kick him repeatedly in the face.

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