Anton Yelchin in "Odd Thomas."
‘ODD THOMAS’ ★★
Odd Thomas Anton Yelchin
Stormy Llewellyn Kim van Kooten
Chief Wyatt Porter Willem Dafoe
Fungus Bob Robertson Shuler Hensley
Image Entertainment presents a film written and directed by Stephen Sommer, based on the novel by Dean Koontz. No MPAA rating. Running time: 93 minutes. Opens Friday at Streets of Woodfield.
Yep, he’s an odd one all right. You’re likely to get tired of hearing about it pretty quick, though.
“I do lead an unusual life,” says the psychically gifted young hero of the horror-comedy “Odd Thomas” in an opening voice-over monologue, before going on to explain that he’s able to commune with the recently deceased. And that they frequently expect him to bring their killers to justice. An ability that has given him a reputation around town as a bit of a strange-o.
And that should have been all we need to hear on the subject. Instead, though, writer-director Stephen Sommers (the “Mummy” series, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”) takes every opportunity to reinforce just how weird, whacky and just-plain-nuts Odd’s life is with zingy banter like this:
Stormy: Most people would have the good sense to run away.
Odd: I’m not like most people.
Stormy: I know.
Stormy, by the way, is Odd’s faithful girlfriend. She’s played by Addison Timlin and Odd’s played by Anton Yelchin, who also plays Chekhov in the new “Star Trek” movies. Their relationship appears to be modeled on the affectionate quippery of Nick and Nora Charles in the old “Thin Man” movies. Though somehow it wasn’t annoying when Nick and Nora did it.
Like Nick, Odd is a private detective, but with a specialty. He’s “an undercover detective for dead people,” as he puts it. Undercover because no one who’s alive knows about it except for Stormy and fatherly police chief Porter (Willem Dafoe) — and even he likes to tell Odd how weird he is. Especially since Odd’s really earning his reputation this time with all sorts of frantic behavior connected to signs of an impending mass slaughter in Pico Mundo. The small desert town has been overrun by record numbers of slithery, translucent, demon-like creatures called Bordachs, who can only be seen by Odd and who only show up in places they can expect to feed on the dark energy generated by “extreme, operatic violence and terror.”
On the plus side, “Odd Thomas” (opening Friday at Streets of Woodfield) has a fun premise going for it, one that has sustained prolific horror writer Dean Koontz through a six-novel series so far. What’s not to like about a wisecracking, self-denigrating short-order cook keeping the world safe from psycho-killers and satanists? Yelchin is agreeably offbeat and convincingly two-fisted in the role, and Sommers, who’s always had a knack for fast-paced action with a light, comic touch, provides a few entertaining scenes here and there.
Unfortunately, the horrific stuff in “Odd Thomas” seems gorily incompatible with the film’s otherwise breezy screenplay. Speaking of which, there should be some sort of penalty imposed on any movie where snappy repartee makes up more than, say, 63 percent of the dialogue. And quirky voice-over narration? 12.3 percent tops.
Especially when it’s there because it’s the only way you can understand what’s going on.