Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin) sees dead people. They don’t speak to him, but they sometimes lead him to their murderers, a trick that’s made him a close ally to police chief Wyatt Porter (Willem Dafoe).
Odd Thomas may sound like it’s a mash-up of Dead Like Me, The Sixth Sense and Ghost Town, but it’s way more frenetic than those. Based on the novel by Dean Koontz, the film opens with Odd (that’s his first name – his mom told him he was supposed to be named Todd, but there was an error on his birth certificate; his father said he was always supposed to be Odd) being visited by a young girl. Her face looks familiar and she doesn’t speak, but he’s soon following her down the streets of Pico Mundo, a California desert town in which Odd feels compelled to stay to help its deceased. She leads him to the driver of a blue convertible and Odd reveals that he knows the driver left the girl for dead a few nights ago. That leads Odd on a chase across town that ends at a pool party. It’s a great and exciting open and sets up the next 90 minutes nicely.
Odd is a short-order cook at a small diner and his girlfriend Stormy (Addison Timlin) works at an ice cream shop at the mall. They’re a sweet couple and she’s one of the few people who know about his ability. He’s also clairvoyant and when a new customer comes into the diner followed by bodachs, shadowy creatures who only come to town when carnage is nigh and which only he can see, Odd is determined to figure out what’s planned and stop it before it happens.
Odd Thomas is fun and Yelchin (previously seen in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek films, the Fright Night remake and the great 2007 indie Charlie Bartlett) is a likeable leading man. He’s believable as a sorta vigilante and really anchors the film by setting its tone. He and director Stephen Sommers are having a good time and even the darker plot points like mass murders and terrorism are livened. The film’s not perfect and in juggling romance, sci-fi, action, comedy and mystery, it suffers from a bit of an identity crisis, especially when it doesn’t handle every genre with total grace; the special effects aren’t as sophisticated as they could have been, though that could be a result of the studio not having too much faith in it (the movie hasn’t had a traditional theatrical run yet). This is not to knock the film at all, but fans of Supernatural and Veronica Mars will definitely get a kick from Odd Thomas.
Odd Thomas is playing at Cineplex Forum in Montreal (at 7:30 p.m.) and Cineplex theatres across Canada on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, as part of the chain’s second edition Sinister Cinema series, a monthly screening of genre films. It’s out on DVD and Blu-Ray on March 25.