Odd Thomas

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Odd Thomas (Yelchin) is a psychic who lives in a small town in California. He describes his ability as, “I see dead people, but then, by God, I do something about it.” One morning the ghost of a teenage girl, Penny Kallisto, silently leads him to Harlo Landerson. Odd accuses Harlo of raping and murdering Penny. Harlo flees. Odd chases him into a child’s bedroom in a stranger’s house. Harlo and Odd fight and Harlo is knocked unconscious. Odd’s friend, police chief Wyatt Porter (Dafoe), is aware of Odd’s psychic gifts and promises to spin the story to keep public attention away from him.

Odd has a vision of faceless people wearing bowling shirts who cry out to him to save them. A faceless gunman shoots them all, including Odd. Recovering from the disturbing dream, he goes to his job as a short-order cook. He serves lunch to a strange man named Hensley, whose hair resembles some kind of mold. Hensley is surrounded by dozens of bodachs, invisible creatures that feed on evil and carnage that only Odd can see. Odd’s co-worker, Viola Peabody (Mbatha-Raw), recounts a strange dream in which she saw herself shot dead with another man. The man’s clothing is identical to that worn by the faceless people in Odd’s vision.

Odd uses his psychic magnetism to find Hensley; the trail leads to the mall where Odd’s girlfriend Stormy (Timlin) works at an ice cream shop. Odd borrows Stormy’s scooter to follow Hensley home. When Hensley leaves again, Odd breaks into his house. He finds an ashtray with several brands of cigarette butts in it, indicating that Hensley had visitors. Odd learns that the man’s real name is Bob Robertson; he and Stormy refer to him as “Fungus Bob”. Odd finds a file containing newspaper clippings of mass murderers, arranged by name. There is also a blank calendar page for the next day; Odd realizes that Robertson is planning something bad on that date. Odd reports this to Chief Porter, who assigns two deputies to follow Fungus Bob.

Odd meets Stormy for dinner in the belfry of a church. They see Fungus Bob approaching and they flee to the sacristy. As they escape the church, Robertson destroys the sacristy. Stormy calls Chief Porter, who finds the church vandalized but no evidence to link it to Robertson.

Odd’s psychic magnetism leads him and Stormy to a bowling alley, where the bowling shirts from his vision are sold. Chief Porter sends Officer Simon Varner (Tortorella) to watch the place on Odd’s advice. Varner asks Odd about Robertson and is surprised to learn that Odd had encountered him only a few hours ago. He presses Odd for more information. Stormy interrupts by asking about Varner’s visible tattoo, the letters “POD”. Varner dismisses it as an embarrassment from his youth, an abbreviated obscenity that he won’t discuss.

Viola remembers more details of her dream; she tells Odd that she and the man in the bowling shirt were not the only victims of the shooting, and a large group of people were killed. Odd sees bodachs hovering over Vi’s daughters, and he advises her to leave town with her daughters immediately.

While driving home, Stormy is overcome with fear for Odd’s safety and he tries to comfort her. They hear a woman screaming. Odd finds Lysette, a friend of Chief Porter and his wife, who has been mauled to death by dogs resembling those at Robertson’s home. Another man tried to rescue the woman by shooting the dogs, but was too late. Returning to Stormy’s apartment, Odd sees a van watching the building. After securing Stormy, he returns to his apartment.

He finds Fungus Bob shot to death in his bathtub, with evidence framing Odd for the murder. Odd surmises that if he goes to the police, Porter will be required to arrest him based on the evidence, preventing him from preventing the next day’s disaster. He discovers that Bob has been dead for quite some time and deduces that the encounter at the church was with the dead man’s restless spirit. Wrapping the body in sheets, Odd dumps the corpse in the execution chamber of an abandoned prison. As he drives back through town, the magnitude of the coming disaster is indicated by the swarming of hundreds of bodachs.

Chief Porter is shot in a home invasion. Odd rushes to the hospital and learns that Porter is alive thanks to a metal trinket Odd had given him, but in serious condition. Returning to Bob’s home, Odd finds a receipt for a moving van and improvised explosives, and browser bookmarks for Satanic websites. Robertson’s poltergeist destroys the house as Odd escapes.

Odd investigates Bob’s fatal bullet wound, and finds a tattoo matching Varner’s. He realizes that “POD” is an abbreviation for “Prince of Darkness”. Odd realizes that Robertson was eliminated by his co-conspirators because Odd could identify him.

Odd’s psychic magnetism leads him back to the mall. He finds Officer Eckles has murdered the mall security staff. Odd disables him with a baseball bat. He takes Eckles’s pistol and seeks out Varner. Hearing screams from the end of the mall where Stormy works, he hurries to the site and shoots another gunman. The lingering spirit of Lysette appears and directs him to the loading dock. Odd removes the gunman’s mask and recognizes him as the man who tried to rescue Lysette. Odd rushes to the loading dock where he discovers Bob’s moving van packed with explosives, apparently part of a plan to kill the shoppers in the mall. Varner emerges and shoots Odd, but Odd manages to start the van and drive it away from the mall. Varner clings to the outside of the van and attempts to kill Odd. Odd jumps from the van as Varner enters the cab, and the van crashes into a man-made canal and explodes, incinerating Varner but killing no one else. A black, shrieking spirit escapes from the flames.

Odd wakes in the hospital. Stormy is attending him. Viola greets him and tells him that Porter has been released from intensive care. Odd is a local hero. He retreats to Stormy’s apartment to enjoy uninterrupted time with her. Porter, his wife, and Viola arrive and reveal what he already knows: Stormy was killed in the mall shooting and he has been spending time with her lingering spirit. Porter, realizing that Stormy is staying in this world only for Odd, advises him to let her go. Odd bids her a tearful farewell, promising her that they’ll be reunited one day.

Odd travels to Las Vegas, realizing that he is not yet worthy of an afterlife with Stormy.

REVIEW:

I was actually asked a few weeks ago by a friend what I thought of Odd Thomas. At that point in time, I thought this was some kind of military invasion plot or some new slang for something that I just hadn’t heard of yet. As it turned out, Thomas is the main character in a series of books by Dean Koontz and now a film. I need to go check those books out from the library when I get the chance. In the meantime, let’s have a few words about the film, shall we?

What is this about?

In a California desert town, a short-order cook with clairvoyant abilities encounters a mysterious man with a link to dark, threatening forces.

What did I like?

Leading man on the rise. Anton Yelchin has slowly been proving his mettle as both an actor and a leading man in films such as Charlie Bartlett, Terminator: Salvation, and both Star Trek films. This character is one that needs a capable actor who can not only deliver a strong dramatic performance, but also a bit of comedy and romance, as well. I fell Yelchin did all these things and also is just so darn likable.

Bodachs. An interesting enemy, as it were, in this film are the Bodachs, otherworldly creatures that only Odd can see. For a low-budget, indie film such as this, they were very convincing and dare I say menacing? The way they come into this world out of a portal that just randomly appears and then swarm out like ants who have had their hill stepped on is the stuff of nightmares. I commend the visual people for achieving this effect.

Who’s that girl? In this day and age where it is apparently a cardinal sin for female character to play the damsel in distress and/or be nothing more than a pretty face as opposed to a butt-kicking feminist, we come across Stormy played by newcomer (and practically perfect) Addison Timlin. What I like about her character is that she is hopelessly in love with Odd, can take care of herself, but also isn’t afraid to show weakness. In other words she is the compromise character of today and yesterday. The fact that she isn’t an eyesore doesn’t hurt, either! HA!

What didn’t I like?

Tone. The tone of this film seems to be all over the place. For a film that was advertised as a sort of horror comedy, I felt it started to take itself too seriously a little before the halfway point and never got back to the light comedy of the first few scenes. For me, I think the comedic parts worked better, especially with Yelchin as the title character. However, I can see the serious tone working as well. I just feel that they could have found a better balance.

Last act. Following the climax, we are subject to a 15-minute epilogue that just rips your heart out. The emotional toll this takes shows how well the characters were developed over the film, but I think for this type of film they took too long with this scene. As one critic said, “it was all a bit too CW.” I wonder if it this impactful and drug out in the book because watching it hurt my heart.

Walking to Vegas? At one point in the film, Odd says that he lives a life with no car, no home (somehow he has an apartment), etc. I questioned why this was brought up, as I figured he was just living with his girlfriend. As it turns out, he borrowed her scooter or someone else’s car when he needed to get somewhere, but in the final scene he walks from small town California to Las Vegas. Even if this place was on the border, that still isn’t a short walk. Couldn’t he have borrowed a car or taken her scooter?

Netflix seemed to be hell-bent on me watching Odd Thomas. I heard about it once or twice, but can’t remember if those were good or bad things. This turned out to be a pretty enjoyable film. I felt it could have done a few things better, there are so many things it could have done worse. I hope that we at least get one more film from this series of books, but I doubt that will happen. Now that I think about it, this might actually make a good series, if done right. So, do I recommend this? Yes, it worth a watch or two.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

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