Odd Thomas: Blu-Ray Review (Mania.com)

By:Tim Janson
Review Date: Tuesday, April 01, 2014
Source: Mania.com

Odd Thomas is based upon the 2003 Dean Koontz novel of the same name which since has spawned five sequel books.  The film had a limited theatrical release before being released on home video.  Director Stephen Sommers, most known for big budget films The Mummy series, Van Helsing, and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, operates here with a much smaller (although not insignificant) budget of $27 million, most of which was raised by he and Koontz.

The quirky series centers on the character of Odd Thomas (Yelchin), so named due to a mistake on his birth certificate (It should have read Todd).  Odd has a gift that makes his name quite suitable as he is able to see and communicate with the dead.  Only his girlfriend Stormy (Timlin) and the town’s Sheriff Wyatt Porter (Dafoe) know his secret.  Odd often teams with the police to help solve crimes and the first time we meet him he’s chasing down a man who murdered a young girl.

Odd can also see evil spirits known as Bodachs who appear when someone is about to die.  Odd begins to see lots of Bodachs in his small town of Pico Mundo…Lots and Lots of Bodachs.  More than he has ever seen before which makes him realize his town is in serious trouble; But from who or what?  The Bodachs swarm around a mysterious man that odd dubs “fungus man” and shares his information with Porter.  But as the bodies and strange occurrences begin to pile up, Odd finds himself facing an evil that threatens the entire town.

While I haven’t read any of the Koontz series, Yelchin’s (Best known for portraying Chekov in the new Star Trek film franchise) boyish charm and curiosity is a good fit for the title role.  He is in just about every scene in the film as well as providing a first person narration so he carries most of the film.  The deadpan precision dialog reminds you of the banter from 1930s and 1940s era comedies, particularly between Odd and Stormy.  Dafoe is also a lot of fun and the film includes Patton Oswalt and Arnold Vosloo in cameo roles.  

The banter and eccentric characters though creates an uneven tone to the film.  Vosloo appears as a spirit who tries to make Odd laugh making faces and holding his own severed arm. With all this strangeness going on it detracts from the film’s horror elements.  You never get the sense that the town is in that much danger and the plot twists end up being more mundane than supernatural.

The ending is surprisingly emotional and moving.  While tragic, it again didn’t seem to fit with the more lighthearted tenor of the rest of the film.  This is the first adaption (big or small) of Koontz’s work since 2004’s made-for-TV “Frankenstein”.  Film and TV has not treated Koontz that well over the years with most of the adaptations not just being bad but often disastrous.  This has understandably made Koontz a little gun shy and, in fact, Sommers wrote the screenplay before even securing the rights to the book.  While Odd Thomas might not swing the pendulum fully in the author’s favor it definitely beats the hell out of previous attempts like “Watchers”, “Hideaway”, and “Phantoms”.  If the film performs well enough in the home market there’s already word that a sequel will be made.

Unfortunately the blu-ray comes with no extras at all.  This is disappointing especially since Koontz helped raise the funds to get the film produced so an interview with him about the project would have been welcomed.

Mania Grade: B-
Rated: Unrated
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Willem Dafoe, Addison Timlin
Written By: Stephen Sommers
Directed By: Stephen Sommers
Original Year of Release: 2014
Distributor: Image Home Entertainment
Special Features: None