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John’s Horror Corner: Odd Thomas (2013), if Disney did a PG-13 horror while keeping all its cute, spunky family-friendly wholesomeness

May 14, 2014

odd_thomas_ver7_xlgMY CALL: A wholesome, cute, spunky, almost Disney-esque horror movie with none of the rated R-ness but just enough evil to take it seriously at times. MOVIES LIKE Odd Thomas: The “adultness” of this matches up well to the first three or four Harry Potter films. However similar in tone, this movie is considerably less wowing and lacks the enchanting world-building elements. The Men in Black franchise feels like a close sci-fi counterpart, despite having no younger actors.


“I see dead people?” Well, it’s been done. But it’s been a while since I cared. So I gave Odd Thomas a shot and I’m glad I did. It offers up something that may not be meant for me, but I appreciated it nonetheless.

So Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin; Fright Night, Star Trek: Into Darkness), a boyish young man, sees dead people. Playing out with all the carefree background mood and pleasantries of an episode of Desperate Housewives–and all of the almost playful menace as well–Thomas lives in a nice California town surrounded by nice people where he solves crimes using clairvoyance. One day Thomas may be avenging a kind ghost’s wrongful end and the next, stopping a killer from continuing his latest spree. But when things are going to become really bad Thomas sees Bodachs, evil nether creatures which sense the disastrous upcoming events and feed on the death and suffering that ensue. Our story picks up when Thomas starts seeing a disturbing number of Bodachs invisibly lingering about a strange man who clearly has a doomed future and a dark past.

"Is that a blonde yamika or were you John Hurt (sp) in Alien?"

Is it me, or does this guy look like Edgar from Men in Black?  Remember the Edgar suit?


Bodach (above); Dungeons and Dragons Bodak (below)


Thomas has a wholesome girlfriend named Stormy (Addison Timlin; That Awkward Moment, Californication) who has the Disney sitcom dream of owning her own ice cream shop in the mall. She’s spunky, brave and supports Thomas is all his odd dealings with the dead.

odd-thomas-movie-photo-2stormy"Wanna stub my camel toe?"

Thomas’ main squeeze, Stormy.  Isn’t she just cuter than a puppy made out of kittens?

Another clutch comic book style role is the chief of police (Willem Dafoe; Spider-Man, Antichrist), who is a friend and confidant, and is also aware of Thomas’ secret . Like a crime-stopping kid show, the chief is on speed-dial and he trusts Thomas and Stormy’s word, sending police aid on request.


“Yes, this is the chief…oh, hi Thomas…sure, how many officers should I send to help you…no problem, I trust your dead-people-seeing judgment.  Toodles!”

The special effects are not great, but feel strangely appropriate, if not perfect, considering the “Disney-goes-PG-13” feel of this film. I’m not making fun of it at all. This feels like Disney’s answer to the old Nickelodeon show Are You Afraid of the Dark (1991-2000).

"You wanted to break into television!?"

As for the action, normally my answer would be “absolutely not.” As an adult, I did not find Anton Yelchin’s physical prowess in this movie credible. No matter how well-choreographed the fights may have been, and with all their cool slow-motion bits and chase sequences, I simply don’t buy this little guy as a fighter or athlete. But here’s the thing. It all looked so good and, again, empowering our smaller-statured boyish protagonist just seems to match the wholesome feel of this movie perfectly.


However often I reference Disney in this review, there was at least one scene that shamelessly brandished a common horror trope.

Director Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, Van Helsing) had some fun with this one, which feels like a PG-13 Disney Rom-sitcom horror stretched into a movie. It’s often charming and cute, the story is cohesive, and it all comes to a touching end. Watch it on family movie night if you have some tweens who aren’t ready for real horror just yet.


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