Odd Thomas is a movie based on the novel of the same name by Dean R. Koontz. I haven’t read much of Dean R. Koontz’s work, just The Watchers and maybe one other book which I don’t recall. I was always impressed by the caliber of his writing, so a friend and I figured we’d give this movie a look (he’d actually read the book and said that he liked it). The movie tells the story of a young man living in a small town by the name of Odd Thomas. Yes, his first name is Odd. This is the result of a typo at birth; his parents were originally going to call him Todd.
Anyway, Odd has a number of special abilities, all psychic in nature. He can see the dead; he can see these evil demonic spirits that flock to chaos and death, and he can find people he’s looking for—provided they are relevant to his current psychic case—simply by wandering around town. He’s also a heck of a good fist-fighter. The story begins with him encountering the ghost of a girl who was recently slain. She leads him to her murderer, who he promptly chases down and beats into submission for the police to take care of. That’s just the intro. From there, the plot thickens when he notices a man at his restaurant who is attracting an unusually high number of demonic spirits. This portends a massacre in the making. And that is something he has stop. The other characters in the film include his girlfriend Stormy, the police captain, a number of policemen, a single mother of two, and a few others.
Strengths: the movie had good plot, good characters, and decent special effects. I didn’t notice any logical loopholes on a first viewing, nor was the violence gratuitous. And the acting, I thought, was pretty good. Weaknesses: I think it tried to be too clever. There were a number of “twists” which involved additional bad guys, that got a bit tiresome; I walked away thinking they’d used that twist just one too many times. I mean really—was the whole town out to get them? Anyway, it was still a good movie and I’d recommend it to anybody looking for some paranormal mystery-type entertainment.
Ultimately, I’ll give Odd Thomas three and a half, or maybe even four stars out of five.
“The Awakening” is a paranormal horror/thriller starring Rebecca Hall as the skeptical hoax-buster Florence Cathcart. The setting is 1921 England, shortly after World War I. Florence has led a troubled life: she has blocked out much of her childhood, and (if I recall correctly) has lost her husband in the war.
The movie begins with her exposing the hoax of a spiritualist group. Shortly, thereafter a man by the name of Robert Mallory comes to her home to hire her to look into several ghost sightings at a boys’ boarding school. She reluctantly agrees and heads to the school. She begins her investigation with the various and sundry trappings of a disciplined scientist. She soon discovers, however, that the things that go bump in the night may just have more credence than she first believed.
The plot of the story is pretty straightforward at first: it’s basically a paranormal investigation being performed by a skeptic based on debunking the phenomena. The paranormal effects are carefully and precisely done, which is a pleasure. They did not go overboard. There were no bubbling cauldrons of blood or eviscerated phantasms … well, there was some gunshot wounds, but that was about it. I found that refreshing because the movie relied on plot and structure to build suspense. And that’s what it was: more suspenseful than horror. And I liked that.
Strengths: the carefully chosen special effects were masterful. As were the oddly disturbing use of seemingly ordinary objects: a doll with a rabbit’s head, a dollhouse filled with little homemade figures. Taken together, they gave the film a subtle, yet satisfying ambience. Weaknesses: I wouldn’t call this a weakness, but there was little blood and gore. Some people looking for strict horror might be unsatisfied. But actually, upon reflection, I would regard that as a strength. The biggest weakness, I thought, was the unneeded double twist at the end. I say double, because there were two twists and neither one was needed. I would have been perfectly happy if the story had stuck to the original storyline of the paranormal investigation vindicating the existence of ghosts. But they had to (spoiler alert) tie back the whole building and ghost to the main character, and then have the psycho nanny (or whoever she was) try to kill the main character. A well-crafted paranormal investigation would have suited me much better and could have been a better movie.
Overall, I’ll give the movie four out of five stars. It would have been four and a half out of five if they had just resolved the original story line without the double twist. But they didn’t.