Wow, what happened to Odd Thomas? Upon the announcement that Stephen Sommers (GI Joe: Rise Of Cobra/The Mummy) would be adapting Dean Koontz’s supernatural “comedy,” people were excited (maybe?)! Anton Yelchin signed on, Willem Dafoe signed on, and all seemed business as usual until something truly odd happened – no one cared. A few critics saw it, some negative reviews poured out, and suddenly Odd Thomas turned into a Direct-to-DirectTV movie, not that being straight VOD is a negative, but it’s a strange telltale at times. Did that scare me away? Of course not, this fearless critic dared to follow Odd Thomas into battle – and now here we are talking about a pancake-flipping Nancy Drew wannabe. Why didn’t I listen?
Who is Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin)? Just your average teenager who loves working his low-key diner job, spends every day loving his wonderful girlfriend Stormy (Addison Timlin), and can see the dead. Yup, Odd (his real name, I swear) is a bit of a paranormal detective, as the dead come to him when their crimes go unanswered. He can also see evil demons known as bodachs, who are drawn to pain and destruction. The more bodachs Odd sees, the worse a future event is going to be. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but when Odd notices a particularly shady character being swarmed by bodachs, he jumps into action. With every new clue Odd uncovers, more and more bodachs appear, and before long our investigator realizes he’s looking at a sea of bodachs, more than he’s ever seen. Since no one else can comprehend what impending doom lies ahead, it’s up to Odd and his clairvoyant powers to save his sleepy town and all its residents – unless the bodachs catch on first.
So where does Odd Thomas go wrong exactly? Let’s start with simple visuals, as our eyes are doing the watching. I can’t say I’m surprised at the heavily rendered CG work creating our bodach antagonists, typical mainstream horror imagery at work, but more confusing were the poorly rendered bullets, fighting, and, um, ice cream? I could have sworn I saw CG ice cream thrown in there, and that’s just a testament to the ridiculous amount of poor CG that Anton Yelchin must wage his ghostly war around, taking us completely out of moments already heavily saturated with annoying narration. Half of Odd Thomas is made up of unacceptable eyesores that stand out like a blocky bullet from Goldeneye for N64, but luckily for our animators there are bigger, stinkier fish to fry.
Odd Thomas repeatedly loves to remind us what the hell is going on, like every five minutes, either through Odd’s overly quirky narration, like a male Juno, or when Odd’s increasingly annoying girlfriend calls to check in at the most inopportune times. Stephen Sommers trusts his audience has the attention span of a bodach, flying aimlessly around the room with zero focus, and finds it necessary to state the obvious in case we’ve drifted into a boredom induced daze. I mean, if you know your boyfriend is snooping around the bad guy’s hideout, trying to stealthily solve a mysterious puzzle, do you really think calling a billion times for a play by play update makes sense? Talk about needy…
Just for good measure, can we mention the obvious plot holes ignored by Sommers’ screenplay? One minute we’re being told the dead can’t interact with humans, as they’re stuck in a ghostly form, then the next minute bodachs are holding Odd down and using physical force on a living being – completely breaking the rules. Again, a dead baddie throws a few punches Odd’s way, and they pass through as expected, yet when Odd encounters a more prolific ghost later on, he’s seen making physical contact, throwing previous information completely out the window. Continuity – what is it?
The worst part is, Yelchin struggles to keep Odd Thomas afloat, but a mixture of CG food and nagging phone calls ruin what haunting fun Odd’s journey could have been. Some people are going to absolutely dig Odd’s sense of cheesy dialogue and incessant think-babbling, but Sommers’ non-stop breaking of his own damn rules makes for a frustrating watch – paired with hilariously incompetent villainy and Odd’s continual cockblocking of poor Chief Porter (Willem Dafoe). Seriously, drink every time Odd interrupts Willem Dafoe during sex – what a little dickhead.
Odd Thomas is one hippie stoner and a talking dog away from a lame Scooby Doo cartoon episode, but I don’t even think getting high on medicinal Scooby Snacks would have brought realism to so much glossy, uninspired animation. Jeepers, this is one mystery better left unsolved.
Odd Thomas is a visual head-scratcher about a paranormal investigator who loves interrupting Willem Dafoe during, um, "date night" - or at least that's what I took away from this lame Scooby Doo episode.