He's pretty familiar with death. He can see dead people, and they can tell him how they died. Sometimes he can even tell when death is coming. He is clairvoyant, or psychic, or something; he's gifted, he's weird, he's strange. He is odd -- Odd Thomas.
And that's not just a title or nickname, that's his real name. A name he lives up to every day, because not only can he see dead people, he feels a responsibility to do something about it -- like, maybe apprehend their murderer -- which can get some strange looks as he chases people down the street. He also doesn't want anyone to discover his gifts. Then they might start calling him more than "Odd."
|Guess why I wanted to see this movie. I'll give you a few hints -- it wasn't for the ghosts, and is pictured here. Give up?|
Anton Yelchin plays our paranormal crime solving weirdo. He was the reason I wanted to give this obscure movie a shot, and ultimately he was the reason I was happy I did. Odd isn't actually that strange acting, he's mostly just an unusually endearing, enthusiastic twenty-something with an overload of charming confidence. Think a classic jaded noir mystery film PI, but young and modern, and, well, happier -- for the most part. He even does the narration, explaining things to the audience that might be tedious to understand otherwise, and cracking one-liners like the best of them. Narrations can go either way with me, and this one is a winner.
The only people who know about Odd's abilities is his girlfriend, Stormy (see, everyone in this movie has interesting names) played by Addison Timlin, and the local Sheriff, played by Willem Dafoe. Though he tries to keep her out of his escapades, Stormy is often his backup; the Ned to his Nancy Drew; the Dr. Watson to his Sherlock Holmes. And Sheriff Porter is the go-to guy once the bad guys have been caught, and Odd needs a good cover story to keep his secret safe.
Because the film is not rated, I'm going to put a little content review here. I'd give it a PG-13, for a little bit of language, plus brief strong language; a bit of sexual content, plus one girl in some revealing underwear; lots and lots of scary/tense/suspenseful moments, a good amount of out-and-out violence, and some disturbing/gross moments. Also, there are some disturbing creatures. The violence and creepiness was definitely the worst of it, but that I didn't mind as much at all. And I was glad for how well the scary and suspenseful was balanced with comedy.
In fact my favorite aspect has to be the comedy. The script had some great humor for all the characters, but mostly for Odd. Odd practically never stops talking between his narrating inner thoughts and his real-life penchant for hearing his own voice say smart-alack-y things, and as long as he's saying words, he never stops spinning them out with a generous helping of wit. Watching him put together the pieces of a puzzle was so fun and exciting, not necessarily because of what he was figuring out, but because of the way he went about figuring it.
|Short-order cook by day, crime-solver by-- well, day and night actually.|
As for the plot and the mystery, it kept me guessing, and in the end made a good amount of sense with one or two small holes -- but no more than you'd find in a popular American TV crime drama any night of the week. However, if Steven Moffat tried to pass it off as a Sherlock episode, people would doubtlessly be disappointed. It's all about context though -- I didn't expect a Sherlockian-type complexity, I just wanted to see Anton Yelchin fight evil, and the mystery allowed for that with amusing style. And in the end I was even impressed at how sensible it was -- never trying too hard to outdo anything, or take on more than it could handle, just skipping along happily to the beat of its own witty little drum.
Odd Thomas isn't breaking any new ground here, but some things never get old, especially when they're done with a heart and a soul, a dashing hero, and a cheerfully cynical attitude.