People often face high expectations when fulfilling their duties to those who admire and respect them the most. Whether a gifted young man is striving to once again protect his loved ones and his town from an unforeseen, but looming, danger, or a filmmaker attempts to bring a beloved literary character to the screen, both men have a challenging task to accomplish. Writer-director Stephen Sommers is the latest filmmaker to adapt a cherished novel character for a movie, with the mystery horror comedy, ‘Odd Thomas,’ which is now playing in select New York theaters. The main character, who is the triumphant protagonist in author Dean Koontz’s acclaimed book series of the same name, has a unique, meaningful gift that helps protect the town from those determined to bring them pain, particularly those beings who are already dead.
‘Odd Thomas’ follows the title character (Anton Yelchin), a short order cook in a diner in the small New Mexico town of Pico Mundo. Trying to lead as simple a life as possible as a way not to draw excessive attention to himself, Odd sees ghost of murder victims, who come to him for him in apprehending their killers. Holding the special paranormal talent of detecting blood, even when it’s invisible, he discreetly helps the local police chief, Wyatt Porter (Willem Dafoe), who keeps his secret.
Odd’s abilities are kept hidden from everyone else in Pico Mundo, except his girlfriend, Stormy (Addison Timlin), who is his soul mate, and he believes he’ll be with forever. While she can’t see the violent, predatory spirits he calls Bodachs, which appear whenever someone is in danger, he strives to protect everyone in their path of destruction.
The latest person Odd believes is set to unleash terror on is town is a man he nicknamed Fungus Bob (Shuler Hensley). He keeps files of famous serial killers, as well as severed heads and an icebox full of cockroaches, in a house in the desert. While Bodachs are swarming to Fungus Bob, Odd realizes there are two other killers on the loose. He discovers that a satanic cult is planning to stage the apocalypse in his town, leading Odd to take whatever means necessary to protect his loved ones.
Sommers created an amusing and witty adaptation of Koontz’s acclaimed novel, by smartly focusing on the eccentric humor the title character regularly relies on to make himself feel better in the life-threatening and challenging situations he often finds himself in. While Odd is determined not to be noticed by the Bodachs as he sets out to find a way to stop Fungus Bob and his cohorts from launching a massacre, the ease and humor the young but experienced protagonist infuses into his mission to save Pico Mundo is enthralling. Whether Odd is mocking the similarly themed, hit mystery thriller, ‘The Sixth Sense,’ by saying “I may see dead people, but by God, I do something about it,” or joking about the seriousness Stormy takes when talking about her job at the mall ice cream parlor, he welcomingly understands the need to laugh when pondering his predicament.
Yelchin was smartly cast as the collected, easy-going Odd, as the Young Artist Award-winner genuinely understood the character’s brazen, courageous attempts to save humanity. Since Odd grasped the potential of extreme danger that came with apprehending murders, especially Fungus Bob and his cohorts as they prepared to unleash the apocalypse, the actor effortlessly infused the gifted crime-fighter with bravado and valor that proved he truly wanted to protect others.
Though the characters face extreme and imminent danger if Odd isn’t able to identify and apprehend the menacing antagonist’s partners in crime, Yelchin doesn’t take his character’s situation too seriously. The actor knows humor would not only keep Stormy, Wyatt and his neighbors at ease during the life-threatening crisis instigated by Fungus Bob, but also help keep his nerves at bay and under control as he daringly fights back against the villains determined to take over the town.
Odd Thomas is an unexpected, surprising action hero who doesn’t fit into the stereotypes of the typical complex action protagonist who appoints himself to save the world. Driven by a strong desire to protect the innocent people of Pico Mundo from the destructive forces of Fungus Bob and his fellow criminals, combined with his unconventional wit and daring motivations, the title character is a relatable, respectable young champion of the people. Yelchin was also fearlessness when infusing his role with a boldness and drive to honestly do what’s morally right for his community, instead of trying to correct his own mistakes and ease his conscious. Sommers created an overall engaging, humorous script and an overall visually and emotionally enthralling mystery horror comedy that will surely capture the attention of fans of Koontz’s series, as well as those who aren’t familiar with the intriguing character.