In her monthly column, guff-film buff Diane Spencer sorts the cinematic wheat from the chaff, then throws all the wheat away. This month: Satanism, premonitions and over-buttered toast in 2013 Dean Koontz adaptation Odd Thomas.
Odd Thomas (played with watery-eyed conviction by Anton Yelchin) is an all-American guy, who happens to see dead people, living in an all-American town, where Satanists happen to be planning a massacre.
Willem Dafoe is a local police officer who understands that Odd has a gift, and allows Odd to hunt down and smash up villains, then comes up with a plausible way this can work in an administrative sense.
Odd’s day job is as a chef in a diner, where he churns out “cardiac shingles” – basically offensively over-buttered toast. The main problem with the film is the lack of morbidly obese redneck extras. Obviously, with a diet like this, everyone should really be eating on massive trays balanced on dustbins outside. But never mind.
“If Odd, who can see dead people but not hear them, could team up with Whoopi Goldberg, who can hear dead people but not see them, they’d be a great psychic detective team and could run an undercover operation in a pottery.”
Odd’s everyday life appears to be saccharine to a diabetic-coma degree. He has a beautiful girlfriend called Stormy (played by doe-eyed, ickily sugary Addison Timlin) and they are BEST friends and they regularly smooch and they never do ANYTHING WRONG ever, other than her penchant for rubbing her bottom on the counter of the diner.
I’m sorry, love, but the counter is for your meat, not for your seat. Everyone is friends, and they regularly do quirky hand slap things, and everyone knows everyone else. Stormy seems happy to flirt her way out of problems, and Odd has no problem with this. I do. I find her highly irritating, but then again my blood type is not Demerara.
When Odd sees dead people, it is literally just that – they do not talk to him, they just stare meaningfully into his mind and he learns everything. If Odd could team up with Whoopi Goldberg, who can hear dead people but not see them, they’d be a great psychic detective team and could run an undercover operation in a pottery.
Odd’s psychic powers appear to improve, as he suffers a premonition that dozens of people wearing bowling uniforms are going to die. Then one of Odd’s colleagues also has a spooky death-riddled dream. I like the fact that this psychic spookiness is clearly on a spectrum, and other characters are allowed to have a little of ‘the shining’ too.
Spooky CGI turns up in the shape of ‘bodachs’: weird grey spidery things that are attracted to evildoers and only appear when operatically bad things are about to happen. A huge amount of these jelly-like creepy things turn up and start haunting a clearly mentally ill man who Odd and Stormy have caringly named Fungus Bob. His obvious disadvantage in life is highlighted by the costume lady’s choice of ridiculous wig. Or perhaps this is intended as some witty parallel with the other wiggy wonder trying to bring about the fall of humanity: Donald Trump.
I love that, like every good psychopath, Fungus Bob keeps detailed newspaper clippings of other psychopaths, just so that if anyone goes snooping, they will automatically know he is a nutter. His calendar is missing a date, and it turns out that a combination of bodachs and dreams and this nutter means that some kind of apocalypse is going to happen the next day. This in turn means that Odd has less than 12 hours to work out what’s going to happen and save the town.
Director Stephen ‘The Mummy’ Sommers has managed to not go completely bonkers with this one, which is nice, and instead plays effectively with accepted afterlife concepts, such as the idea that the temperature drops when dead people turn up. Personally I think in this case it’s kinda rude that dead people don’t speak – if you’re going to adjust the thermostat you could at least ask or apologise.
I like the concept of this film, and the special effects. The plot twists and turns are good, although the ending is predictable, and I know it’s not supposed to be funny, but when you watch it and consider that ONLY Odd can see dead people, his actions in front of the police officer at the end become hilarious.
Would I watch it again: Yes. It’s actually better on second viewing. Especially when you know which main character is going to die (which allows you to put up with the rest of it).
Would I recommend it: Yes. It’d work for older children too.
Twitter summary: Small American town drowning in syrup is attacked by Satanists.4257 Views
Diane Spencer is a standup comedian and writer. Her favourite genres include comedy, horror and sci-fi. Loves halloumi.