Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Review: Odd Thomas (2013)

Based on the bestselling novel by Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas (2013) comes to UK small-screen after a short legal battle quashed any intention of a cinematic release. Directed by Stephen Somers, whose mild-horror track record has been demonstrated with films such as The Mummy (1999) and Van Helsing (2004), this lively adaptation follows Anton Yelchin in the titular role as a spatula-spinning, short-order chef. However, juggling utensils is not his only talent as Odd Thomas, Odd by name, odd by nature has a somewhat overcooked sixth sense. He sees dead people, lots of dead people.

The cook’s clairvoyant abilities are put to good use by local police chief, Wyatt Porter (Willem Dafoe) and when suspicions are raised regarding town newcomer Fungus Bob (Shuler Hensley): the suspected key-holder to the Gates of Hell. Porter is soon hot on the case. Led by dreams and psychic intuition Odd (Anton Yelchin) simultaneously uncovers a plot by a satanic cult who intend to kill the entire town. Along with his girlfriend, Ice cream scooper, Stormy (Adison Timlin) the pair begin their own investigation. The huge scale of the town’s imminent execution becomes increasingly apparent when Odd is haunted by visions of contorting shadowy grim-reaping bocachs that are only visible to his psychic eye. When a bludgeoned body turns up in his bath-tub, Odd comes to realise that he is being framed and his biggest ever battle is only just beginning.

Director, Somers wastes no time, hurling the viewer straight into the alternate universe of his protagonist. The exhilarating actions are accompanied by an extensive narrative delivered by Yelchin’s husky and confident tones. For those unfamiliar with the Koontz’s source material, the narrative provides additional information that at times feels like explanatory-overload but with a plot this complicated, narrative is a definite requirement. Somers, who adapted the screenplay himself, is clearly passionate about his subject and packs a great deal in to the 90 minute run time. His directorial flair is as energetic as the script. Picture Back to The Future’s Hill Valley Town Square ladened with Mummy-esque special effects, and that’s the film’s aesthetic right there.

Drawing on his experience of the horror genre in Fright Night (2011) and romance, (Like Crazy (2011)) Anton Yelchin has the competence and charisma to carry a film from start to finish and Odd Thomas is no different. He fulfils the role as the alternative and enigmatic action hero but thanks to a surprising plot twist, he is also able to play the role from an affecting, emotional perspective that will tug at the heartstrings of any viewer with a pulse. The film is by no means perfect but it consists of the well measured formula of fellow “young-adult” horror movies, such as Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) and Monster Squad (1987) and if it finds the audience it deserves, Odd Thomas most definitely has the potential to become a cult-classic.

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