Saturday, June 14, 2014

Horror Film Review

Odd Thomas (2013):  Novelist Dean Koontz used to be on par with Stephen King when it came to writing scary stories.  Then something changed.  He became more philosophical, swapping horror for the metaphysical.  His novel Odd Thomas was a hybrid of the two with a dash of self-important humor tossed in.  So how well did it translate to the big screen?  Quite well...for the most part.

Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin) is a short-order fry cook in Pico Mundo, CA who sees but can't hear dead people, and, with the help of his girlfriend Stormy (Addison Timlin) and police chief Porter (Willem Dafoe), uses his ability to solve crimes.  When swarms of bodachs (demonic shadow creatures only Odd can see that cluster around places and people that will be involved acts of horrific violence) start appearing in town after Odd has a disturbing premonition, it's a race against time to solve the mystery and save the town.  There is, of course, much more to the plot but going any further increases the odds (no pun intended) of spoilers. 

In the book, Odd is followed around by the ghost of Elvis.  That didn't make it into the film, which is a good thing.  It would have been distracting.  Unfortunately, the most interesting character in the book, Odd's friend Ozzie (Patton Oswalt), has only a cameo in the movie.  One other disappointing aspect of the film is the constant wink wink, nudge nudge comments about how strange Odd's life is.  We get it. We got it after the first 10 minutes.  Otherwise, I couldn't find much else to complain about, and trust me, I was looking. 

The Skinny

Acting:  Yelchin is likable and plays Odd to near perfection.  Timlin as Stormy is too pensive.  Dafoe does a goofy turn as Porter. 
Story:  The adaptation of Koontz's novel is virtually seamless.  Unlike the majority of his stories, this one translates well to the screen.
Direction:  No slow spots, no unnecessary exposition or silly subplots .  The 97 minutes simply flies by.
Production Values:  With a $27 million budget, there's no worry regarding the quality. 
Gore/FX:  Not a lot of blood but there are a few really gross scenes.  Odds discovers body parts in a fridge.  And then there's the corpse in the gas chamber.  The CG bodachs are done well enough.
Scares:  Not so that you'd notice.
Ending:  Bittersweet doesn't begin to cover it.
Verdict:  Should you see Odd Thomas?  Yep.  It's fun, funny, exciting, and most importantly, interesting.  Nothing odd about that.

Rating:  4 out of 5

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