Here comes a reminder that not all independent films are artful per se. Odd Thomas is a smaller project for Stephen Sommers, but not one devoid of his usual trademarks. A graduate of Michael Bay’s school of filmmaking, he is intent on over-stuffing his films to the extreme. If you do see his latest movie, what you could do is keep a little checklist of clichés and mark them down one by one as they splash across the screen.
Are there unnecessary special effects? Check. Do all women look (and sound) like supermodels? Check. Are there explosions? Check it twice. It’s likely the most fun you’ll get out of the experience.
Odd Thomas, solemnly played by Anton Yelchin, is the hero. Odd is actually his first name, which he got as a result of a doctor mishearing ‘Todd’ at the time of his birth. Otherwise, he is a typical young man — except that he’s not. He has a well-guarded secret, a superpower of sorts, the ability to see the dead.
He also sees giant, semi-transparent bugs, whose presence means trouble. It was surprising to hear them being referred to as ‘botox’ throughout the movie. Of course, this isn’t a metaphor for plastic surgery; they are actually bodachs, creatures of Scottish folklore.
Thomas uses his powers to stop criminals and mass murderers, co-operating with his town’s police forces. His main accomplice, the chief of police, is portrayed by Willem Dafoe, who invokes some of his American Psycho cop charm.
Thomas’ has a girlfriend, nicknamed “Stormy” (Addison Timlin), who works at an ice creamery. In many ways, she is the emotional anchor of the film. She is just as odd as her boyfriend; it takes brass balls to keep serving sweets while on the phone with Thomas, who has nothing on his mind but decapitations and gruesome killings. Her face never betrays any emotion, except her usual giggly attitude, which could be taken for a character trait, but one might suspect is rather due to Timlin’s shameless lack of talent.
All things considered, Odd Thomas is exactly what it sounds like: The Sixth Sense made as a teenage action flick crossed with a police investigation story. Its shortcomings are innumerable — take the slapdash, in-your-face directing, or vulgar changes in tone. There are no proper transitions between the romance, fart jokes and gory violence. It’s a big clutter of crummy ideas.
Odd is not a strong enough qualifier. One would rather call it awkward, or better yet, inept.
The horror elements are predictable, the humour clearly aimed towards younger audience members and the story better suited for the small screen. Sommers is forced to work with no special effects for a good part of the film, which he has dealt with by over-stylizing fights and pursuits to a point where it just hurts the eye.
It’s not hard to understand what the director was trying to accomplish in the screenplay, a fairly well-intentioned adaptation of Dean Koontz’ eponymously-titled novel. Suffice to say that it doesn’t translate well to the big screen.
The film was supposed to come out in July 2013, but ended up being indefinitely postponed because of legal disputes. Somehow, this never seems to happen to movies that don’t deserve it.
Odd Thomas opens in theatres on Feb. 13 nationwide.