Toronto After Dark Review: Odd Thomas

Odd Thomas 2

Based on the first novel of the popular series by Dean Koontz, Stephen Sommers’ latest film is a mystery thriller that tries to offer a hip take on the supernatural genre. Though the idea of a young detective who can see the spirits of the dead is intriguing, it is hard to shake the feeling that Odd Thomas should have been made in another medium. I am convinced that the story would work far better as a television series, say a 13 episode arc for Netflix, than it does in its current form. This would allow Sommers, who adapted the novel for the screen, more time to fully flesh out his characters.

Odd Thomas is one of those origin films that packs too much information into its rather short running time. As a result, the film suffers from having a main character, Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin), who feels the need to explain every single thing that is occurring in the film. This is especially noticeable in the twists that I saw coming and even the ones that I did not. The problem with these moments is that the “surprises” have so little impact because the audience never really gets to know anyone outside of the three main characters.

Speaking of the characters, there is so much cutesy exposition in Odd Thomas that it often feels like the film is another live action version of Scooby-Doo without the talking dog. This becomes even more apparent when watching the latter half of the film where, despite all the supernatural talk, Sommers keeps the majority of the action grounded in reality. While I am sure the exposition resonates with readers in the novels, where you get to know the characters on a deeper level, it comes off a little too quaint in the film. This is disappointing considering how charming Odd Thomas is as a character.

Working as a short-order cook in the small town of Pico Mundo, Odd Thomas tries his best to lead an unassuming life. Of course this is easier said than done, especially when he spends his spare time helping the spirits of the dead to bring their killers to justice. Only his girlfriend, Stormy Llewellyn (Addison Timlin), and a local police chief, Wyatt Porter (Willem Dafoe), know about his clairvoyant abilities. While aiding Odd Thomas as best they can, they are unable to see the true dangers that are about to descend on their town. When Odd Thomas sees a large swarm of “bodachs”, shadowy spirits who represent pending death and disaster, he must race find the source of the before it is too late.

Anton Yelchin does a good job of keeping Odd Thomas a rather loveable and interesting character. It is just a shame that the film’s script did not fully support his work better. Odd Thomas is a character who I would love to follow around on other adventures. I just feel, based on this film, that it would be a more rewarding experience if it was on the small screen rather than the big one.