Sometimes the movie is better than the book. Sometimes it isn’t. Odd Thomas, based on the Dean Koontz novel, attempts to transfer a seemingly interesting story from page to screen. Written and directed by Stephen Sommer, starring Anton Yelchin (Charley from the Fright Night remake) and Willem Dafoe, the movie, unfortunately, has a few things working against it.
The main distracting element of Odd Thomas is the excessive use of voiceover. Normally, this will work fine for a first person novel (which it originally is). This also works in small amounts in film. Where Odd Thomas fails is that the film more or less could be followed without the excessive narration. Yes, the original work has this point of view, but translating that to film simply works against a developing plot. There is no time to pay attention to what is happening on the screen when Odd is constantly talking. It makes it feel like less of a film, and more of an extended TV pilot.
The best I could equate the TV feel of Odd Thomas to would be (the short-lived) Reaper meets the Amazon Zombieland pilot. Even with the simplicity of the Odd character – yes, that’s his real name – being a short order cook who sees dead people, who has a girlfriend named Stormy Llewellyn, and a police chief friend played by Willem Dafoe – it just doesn’t have the weight (with these few likeable (enough) characters to continue week-to-week; it can barely hold just over 90 minutes. Nevertheless, I felt as though the villainous plot was simply a first “big bad” to set up continuation of the basic premise presented. I kept waiting for it to end and we could pick up the story next week. Interestingly enough, Odd Thomas IS a series. There are multiple books about the character and his shenanigans, but I simply do not believe there is potential there for it to be a celebrated TV program.
Odd Thomas has incredibly fun effects, though. Odd sees a plethora of bodachs – “predators who feed on pain and portend mass destruction” (think a supped up version of Gravelings from Dead Like Me having babies with Harry Potter’s Dementors) throughout the movie. Personally, I found these to be effective – and I am usually not a fan of excessive CGI use. Along with good effects, the acting on part of all actors was great.
Though the movie deviates from the norm, what we are left with is an interesting story with good effects, and acting that sadly becomes progressively boring due overly long-winded and annoying voice overs. It’s a shame they didn’t just make a pilot.