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Odd Thomas

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odd thomasThis 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.

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on June 29, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Fright Night (2011)

This remake of Fright Night could be said be to cynical attempt by bunch of Hollywood suits to cash-in on the vampire bandwagon with a film based on a very popular vampire comedy from the 80s. I was going to go and see this at the cinema but decided to wait until it was released on DVD. While this film does have the same characters as the original they are all very different people. It has many of the same scenes but there are many more scenes unique to this film and knowing how the original story went doesn’t really tell you much about this one except in the broadest terms.

Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) is a dick-head who ditched his lifelong nerdy friends to hang out with other dick-heads and impress a beautiful girl Amy (Imogen Poots) with how cool and not-nerdy he is. His former friend (Evil) Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) desperately needs to talk to him about their friend Adam going missing. We saw Adam going missing when he got captured while hiding from an unseen vampire that had killed his family the start of the film. Charley is such an insecure dick-head now that even after begging Ed has to threaten him with compromising photos to get his help in investigating Adam’s disappearance. They got to Adam’s house  and Ed tries to convince Charley that his new next door neighbour Jerry Dandridge (Colin Farrell) is a vampire and is responsible for a string of disappearances in their suburb but that just leads to an argument and Charlie is not convinced.

On his way home from Adam’s house Ed gets chased by one of Charley’s bully dick-head buddies. He evades the bully but falls right into lap of Jerry. When Charley gets home Jerry asks him if can borrow some beer and lingers creepily at the door while Charlie gets him beer from the fridge with Charlie clearly making point of not inviting Jerry in. Jerry talks about Amy and Charley’s mother in way that is ambiguous enough to sound innocent if repeated but with a definite air of threat. Next day at school Charley notices Ed is missing and starts getting worried. He starts watching Jerry and when Doris, a woman he knows, goes into Jerry’s house and he hears screams Charley calls the police but Jerry manages to charm his way out of being investigated. When the police leave Charley sees Jerry leaving in his car so he breaks into Jerry’s house and finds Doris but when they manage to sneak out into the daylight Doris bursts into flame.

Charley tries to get help from Peter Vincent (David Tennant) a Las Vegas magician who also claims to be an expert on vampires in his publicity. Charley cons his way into an interview with Peter by posing as a reporter but when he tells Peter that he really needs his help with a vampire Peter gets him thrown out thinking he’s crazy. Charlie goes home and starts carving stakes and hanging crosses and garlic around the doors and windows. When the door bell rings he rushes to stop his mother Jane (Toni Collette) answering the door but it turns out it’s Amy. Jerry appears at the door soon after but Charlie convinces his mother to not invite Jerry in. They are puzzled to see Jerry go into their back garden with a spade and digging down the gas pipe supplying the house. He ignites the gas and blows up their house. Charlie, Amy and Jane get in a car and try to get away but Jerry is soon on their tail.

It is inevitable this film gets compared to the original and it’s not going to be a favourable comparison. Charley initially less likable, Amy is more blandly standard pretty, Jerry is more thuggish, Peter Vincent is Dr Who. But  in this film those characters fit together in a different way to create a different story. I liked that Charley’s mum did not get conveniently scripted out the story. I’m not keen on the CGI gore and Peter Vincent’s convenient expertise really was a bit much. It is entertaining and has plenty of thrills but is light on the chills.

Rating 7/10

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Posted by on February 25, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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