This is a film that suddenly appeared on Netflix with little publicity and I certainly heard nothing about theatrical release or even DVD. The film is based on a book by Dean Koontz but I haven’t read the original story so I can’t really say how good an adaptation it is. I found it an entertaining story and it has quite a memorable punch to its ending
Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin) starts out by justifying his Odd name and for better or worse we learn that this film is narrated. This a common way of adapting novels and providing the internal monologue that is such a common part of a novel. This has the danger of making the narrator’s character seem like a smug know-it-all. Odd is charming enough to get away with it but it’s a borderline case. Anyway Odd’s mother claims it was a mistake and his name was supposed to be Todd but his father claims his mother is insane and his name was always meant to be Odd and he seems to have point since all we see of her is a couple of scenes of his mother lunging at someone with a knife and then getting taken way to a psychiatric hospital. We see even less of Odd’s father.
Odd can see dead people but Odd doesn’t just see them: he does something about it. He claims that he keeps this a secret in case he get locked away like his mother but it seems to be a secret that everyone he knows is in on. The dead people he sees are hanging around because they have unfinished business and he confronts the murderer of a teenage girl in a chase and fight across the neighbourhood that Odd eventually wins and he turns the murderer over to the police. Odd has a strange relationship with police in that the Police Chief Wyatt Porter (Willem Dafoe) knows about Odd’s abilities but he needs to present a case to a judge that doesn’t involve help from the dead.
Odd works as a cook in a diner where he’s very content since so much of his spare time is taken up with helping the dead. We meet his co-worker Viola (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and her two young nieces. Then we meet Stormy Llewelyn (Addison Timlin) the love of Odd’s life. Stormy and Odd have known each other since childhood and he knows they are destined to be together because a fortune teller machine give them a card to say so.
Odd gets worried when a bizarre looking man that Stormy nicknames Fungus Bob (Shuler Hensley) comes into the diner and he is being swarmed by bodachs that only Odd can see, nasty looking parasitic special effects that are attracted to pain and carnage. One is bad news but there are dozens swarming around this guy. Odd decides he needs to keep an eye on him but he knows that bodachs will kill anyone if they discover they can see them.
The small town of Pico Mundo seems like such a nice place that it’s surprise that Odd finds much to do but he’s never seen anything on the scale that all the signs seem to indicate is on its way. Odd tries to investigate but he lives up to Stormy’s nickname of Pooh Bear because at times his head is full of stuffing and he notices important clues then forgets them.
The mood of the film seems to be quite light and humorous but there is a sense of the threat building and only Odd seems to have any clue that something is going to happen. When a woman called Lysette (Shuler Hensley) is killed by dogs only hours after Odd spoke to her at a barbecue he really takes it badly.
I really enjoyed watching this film and I liked the quirky characters and the set-up though there weren’t very many ghosts around. It reminded me a lot of Paranorman only this is live action and definitely for an older audience. It has a sort of indie feel about it so that will it probably not appeal to everyone. There’s a character played by Patton Oswalt who was probably more significant in the original story but has been cut down to a single appearance which is a pity. It has the feel of a TV pilot about it, but one of those pilots that makes me think about checking it out for a few more episodes.