The release of Odd Thomas was delayed due to legal wrangles and the film arrives on DVD with little fanfare, despite the fact that it was directed by Stephen Sommers, the man responsible for The Mummy and Van Helsing. It’s a film that tries hard to be quirky but it never quite shifts into high gear.
Anton Yelchin plays the title character, a short-order cook who ‘sees dead people’. Odd uses his gift to track down evil-doers, aided by his girlfriend Stormy (Addison Timlin) and the local police chief (Willem Dafoe).
Odd Thomas isn’t bad, but it’s not particularly good either. It plays like Peter Jackson’s 1996 film, The Frighteners, and like that film it runs a tricky path tonally. Sommers’ film is a little too perky, in fact, one encounter with a serial killing rapist is almost played for laughs, coming in the middle of breezy voiceover. It’s these issues with tone that hinder Odd Thomas, stripping it of any potential pathos. At times the film plays like a pilot episode for a television series, introducing characters and setting the scene for future Odd adventures. We’re repeatedly told throughout the film that something bad is going to happen, but Sommer’s film lacks urgency and tension. Deep Rising shows that he has the knack for balancing thrills and humour, but that knack seems to have left him for Odd Thomas and he’s got nobody to blame but himself – he wrote the screenplay (based on a novel by Dean Koontz).
Yelchin is solid as the quirky lead, effectively replaying his role from Fright Night, albeit with added supernatural powers. He does what he’s asked to do, but there’s little depth to his character other than his skill for seeing the deceased. It’s a shame that Willem Dafoe’s role in this is so limited; things move up a notch when he’s on screen but these moments are too few and too brief.
On a technical level, Odd Thomas feels like it’s missing something. Visually, it’s rather flat and lacking in scope, while the use of CGI feels dated. It’s almost like Sommers’ felt that his film had to have CGI and its use feels rather perfunctory. John Swihart’s score also feels out of place and somewhat derivative. it doesn’t add anything to the movie, it just sits alongside it.
It’s hard to watch Odd Thomas and not ponder its target audience. It feels like it it belongs in its own place, existing only for those who want to see and adaptation of Koontz’s book. It doesn’t bring anything fresh to the world of movies and there’s nothing groundbreaking about it. It’s more Bland Thomas than Odd Thomas.