Dean Koontz protagonist is not shy when it comes to voice-over narration, but
never exactly breaks the fourth wall, per se. He is probably entitled to his
own eccentric commentary, considering he has the ability to see ghosts and
bodachs, supernatural parasites that feed on fear and suffering. However, his
greatest nemesis might be lawyers, given the legal wrangling that long delayed
the release of Stephen Sommers’ Odd
finally opens in New York this Friday.
comes from crazy stock and therefore understands the need to keep his dubious
gift secret. Only a handful of people know of his power, including Pico Mundo’s
chief of police Wyatt Porter, who appreciates the sort of inside information
Thomas can provide. His loyal girlfriend Stormy Llewellyn is also in on the
truth and a few of their friends vaguely suspect he has the Shine.
he chases down workaday serial killers before they can murder again, like his
former classmate Harlo Landerson from the film’s prologue. However, the
alarming number of bodachs converging on Pico Mundo portends a tragedy of
grander scale. They seem particularly
interested in “Fungus Bob” Robertson, so dubbed by Thomas and Llewellyn because
of his unfortunate grooming habits. Robertson also has an unhealthy interest in
Satanism and a couple of mystery friends. Thomas will try to sleuth out
Robertson’s plans without alerting the bodachs to his uncanny powers of
perception, because they do not take kindly to folks like Thomas.
the first half of Odd Thomas feels
like a ghost-hunting TV show from the 1980’s, with its quaint small town
setting and Thomas’s wholesome courtship of Llewellyn. However, as the stakes
and tension start to rise, the film becomes considerably darker. Sommers (best known for The Mummy and G.I. Joe franchises)
pulls off some third act sleight-of-hand surprisingly adroitly and the manner
in which earthly cults intersect with paranormal malevolence is somewhat intriguing.
Anton Yelchin and Addison Timlin are almost too cute and freshly
scrubbed-looking as Thomas and Llewellyn. Frankly, Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buffy was much edgier, notwithstanding
the characters’ dark backstories in the Koontz source novel. Still, Odd
Thomas has the distinction of featuring Willem Dafoe as an unqualified good
guy, without even the hint of moral compromise, perhaps for the first time
since Triumph of the Spirit. He is
actually not bad plodding along with all due decency as Chief Porter.
the biggest issue for Odd Thomas is
the lack of a strong villain. Broadway actor Shuler Hensley is game enough as
Robertson, but the character is played more for yucks than scares. Likewise,
the bodach effects are serviceable enough, but not especially memorable.
When watching Odd Thomas one can see how it probably works so much better as a
novel. There is some pop at the end that presumably has even more kick on the
page. Yet, the film as a whole has the feel of an extended pilot that it never
shakes off. Better than you might
expect, but still better suited to the small screen, Odd Thomas finally opens this Friday (2/28) in New York.
Labels: Dean Koontz, Ghost movies, Stephen Sommers, Willem Dafoe