31 Days of Hallowe’en, Day 8: Odd Thomas (2013)

odd thomas

I really wanted to like Odd Thomas. Netflix’s rating had it at 4.5 stars, and it had the adorkable Anton Yelchin, with his Chekov-shaped, Star Trek reboot-bettering face. This was almost the movie that John Dies at The End wishes it had been. Quirky, doom-laden, horror-tinged, and with a deadpan narration and sharp visuals, I thought I’d stumbled onto a goofier, cuter version of The Frighteners.

It starts out well. Odd kicks things off by narrating that that really is his first name. A flashback to when his crazy mother was locked up tells us that she possessed some awesome seer-type powers that were passed on to him. It also explains why he’s hesitant to share his gifts outside of catching murderers, which is why Chief Wyatt Porter (Willem Defoe) spins his activity into something less attention-grabbing. It’s implied that this has been done several times before, which is a nice twist on this kind of working relationship in movies.

Business as usual back at the diner where Odd works as a line cook, even when a bunch of spirits (invisible to everyone else) called bogarchs drop in. Odd narrates that he almost never sees these things unless there’s violent murder in store. Much like magpies, he typically only sees one or two, and hardly ever at all. So he’s more than a little shaken up when hundreds of these spectres swarm the place and start ghost-perving on everything in sight – in particular, Odd’s girlfriend Stormy (Addison Timlin). Odd can’t let them think he can see them, or he’ll be toast. So instead, he uses their presence, along with his future-predicting dreams and weird psychic GPS to do a wee bit of digging, and the movie shifts gears from potential horror to pre-murder murder mystery.

It still could have been good, but it felt like multiple movies (horror, sci-fi, fantasy, comedy, teen romantic drama, hipster thriller) stitched together. Which is a shame, because although director Stephen Sommers was responsible for the brilliant cheese-fest that is The Mummy, this one fell apart faster than scarab-infested bandages (sorry; it’s late).

The movie has pretty colours, edgy angles, and Anton Yelchin and Willem Defoe. I can’t compare this to the book (although I’ve liked everything I’ve read by Dean Koontz, I’ve not had a chance to check out his particular book series), but I’ve heard fans were very much short-changed. The narration is superfluous; the dirt-road-western music seems to have accidentally wandered in from another film; everyone but Yelchin and Defoe serves up terrible acting; too many plot points are reveals that occur via flashback along WITH that pointless voiceover, and every female character – EVERY one – is given just scraps of clothing to wear, if anything at all.

Even the flashback with Odd’s mother has her struggling with cops in such a way that her tits slap together in slow-mo like rotting melons, in a scene that intends to show us the tragic but sexy circumstances in which Odd is parted from his mother and gets his first taste of ManPain (there’s more of that later in the movie!). Another character, who immediately forces herself on Odd despite being told he has a girlfriend, is later shown with a black eye, chased by dogs, and ripped to shreds. But not before we see her running – in slow-mo again – with her shiny ball-tits jiggling and bouncing like someone badly juggling jello as she sexily tries to escape. It’s not the end for her, though, as we get to see her again in ghost-form, again running to warn our intrepid hero, with her haywire ghost tits flopulating in slow-mo like if teen helium-filled balloons were kettled by barriers at a One Direction concert.

Even when a more mature character comes to visit Odd at the hospital, there’s a good four inches of cleavage rectangle on display, which I only found odd because it was one of the few times the actress was required to wear clothing. Worst of all is Stormy, whose ice-cream store mall job requires her and all her colleagues to wear four-inch wedge heels and the shortest hot pants in the universe, which would explain why she walks around the house in crop tops and translucent half-thongs, and straddling Odd’s knee while she dutifully supports him in every way in every thing he does forever and ever, and says cute things like “I’m a woman; we all have issues” and doesn’t allow herself to cry about a pending enormous massacre so that she can “be strong for him” and ugh ugh ugh fucking SHITE.

I don’t give a shit if characters are scantily-clad, but the disparity here is so pathetically obvious that I’m just wondering if Sommers knew his film was so fucking awful that he had to resort to forcing every major female player in his actress to wear almost nothing, or if the budget for female clothing had been slashed by all those three-piece suits and layered casual wear that all the male characters wore. I’m really not exaggerating (watch it and pay attention). The fact that these characters are sexualised in moments of peril is even grosser – watch Viola (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) explain her terrifying nightmare and take note of the fact that half of the shots of her account show her almost naked, halter-topped back rather than her facial expressions. The only women who aren’t made to dress in this way are bowling alley employees, children, and one overweight extra.

And it doesn’t matter anyway, because none of these women are properly-written characters: a matronly MILF; a young slut who rightfully meets her grisly demise by her date; a lazy racial stereotype (paraphrase: “Well, considering their father was a no-good drug-addict who walked out on you years ago, I think you’re doing an amazing parenting job, dumb savage brown person who stupidly believes in psychics!”), and the unrealistically twee, manic pixie dream girlfriend of pureness, who exists to worship our hero in yeast-infected vag-wedgie pants and also to manipulate the audience into caring about him because he has to protect this cute ball of ever-loving, ice-cream-providing, soul-mate-forever fluff.

SPOILER (but who gives a fuck?): The movie ends with a tacky, tasteless mall massacre, but rather than offering up even the slightest bit of half-arsed commentary on gun violence in public places, it places the blame squarely on blood-hungry devil-worshippers. Great, like Satan-loving pagans haven’t been demonised enough.

The more I write about this movie, the more I hate it. I’ve actually grown to hate it more than I did when I wrote those other words way up at the top there. I am pissed off at this movie because I wanted it to be as cheesy but well pulled-off as Yelchin’s other spookfest, Fright Night, or as fun as Zombieland. But no, this turned into the blue balls version of Scooby Doo, with the otherworldly spectres and ghosts taking a back seat to hunting down the soon-to-be-suspects, who are just boring humans. Which is just bullshit bait-and-switch. There’s even a scene in which Odd discovers a “doorway to hell”, which makes for some chilling visuals, but said door is never even spoken of again. This is fucking worse than all that cancer plot point from The Room.

This may not the worst film I’ve ever seen, but it comes close, because it’s an utter betrayal of everything it sets itself up to be, which was mediocre/mildly promising in the first place. This Milhouse of a movie was never given a theatrical release, and is available on Netflix (UK and US). Given the source material, it might have made for an amazing TV series.

*Milhouse: Something that thinks it’s way cooler than it really is

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