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Paranormal thriller Odd Thomas
Yelchin's performance anchors paranormal thriller Odd Thomas
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Photos courtesy of RLJ/IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT
Anton Yelchin plays the titular in "Odd Thomas."
Welcome to the town of Pico Mundo, home of short-order cook Odd Thomas who boasts a dysfunctional family history, a devoted, affectionate girlfriend and an uncanny ability to see dead people.

RLJ/Image Entertainment will be releasing "Odd Thomas" in theaters on Feb. 28. Locally, the film will play AMC Woodland Square 20, 3128 Tampa Road, Oldsmar.

The paranormal thriller "Odd Thomas," starring Anton Yelchin in the titular role, is based on the 2003 Dean Koontz novel of the same name. American filmmaker Stephen Sommers - responsible for films such as "The Mummy," "The Mummy Returns" and "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" - embraced the challenge of bringing the story to the big screen. The result is a splendidly entertaining and entrancing endeavor that blends horror, romance, action and humor. Sommers' adaptation of the material is quirky, stylish and audacious.

The film begins with a succinct prologue introducing the central character and outlining his extraordinary supernatural gifts. In addition to seeing dead people, the audience learns he doesn't just shrug off the lost souls seeking justice: He acts in their behalf. Odd also has the ability to see bodachs - demonic wraiths who feed on pain and gather en masse whenever they sense imminent carnage.

When a stranger stumbles into the diner during the breakfast rush, Odd is unsettled by the number of bodachs following him. Sensing impending doom, Odd pursues the pariah - aptly named "Fungus Man" - and gradually he and his girlfriend Stormy (Addison Timlin) are drawn into a complicated mystery. Odd comes to believe he may be the only thing that can prevent a looming catastrophe.

Yelchin truly anchors this unconventional tale. His outstanding portrayal of this idiosyncratic character is intuitive: He manages to make Odd's supernatural abilities believable. Yelchin's Odd is charming, noble and down-to-earth. He plays the self-effacing paranormal superhero so flawlessly it's difficult to imagine anyone else in the role.

On his website, Koontz commented on Yelchin's take on his character, stating that he brings "great heart to the role" and he captures Odd's humility.

"Stephen Sommers, the director, said from day one that Anton Yelchin was his only choice to play Odd and that if Anton didn't want to do it, the film would never be quite what it could have been," Koontz wrote. "I'll admit to being skeptical. But once you see Anton in this, you know you have seen the best of all possible Odds."

Timlin also gives a solid, nuanced performance as Stormy. It always helps when two romantically paired characters manage to show on-screen chemistry, and Yelchin and Timlin achieve that in "Odd Thomas."

Other outstanding cast members include Willem Dafoe, who plays Wyatt Porter, the police chief who knows about Odd's gift and welcomes his assistance. And then there's Shuler Hensley, who plays Fungus Bob. For someone with virtually no dialog, his performance is one that will be remembered for quite some time by anyone who sees this film.

While the acting is first-rate, Sommers' film suffers from a handful of flaws. As with any adaptation, the story is condensed leading to a few noticeable plot holes, a narrative that is at times untidy and one or two pesky don't-go-in-there moments so common in the horror genre. The brisk comic-book pacing, the post-Whedon snarky banter and fine acting help keep this matinee movie fare fresh and fun.

While Yelchin sells "Odd Thomas," Sommers gets credit for orchestrating the unique - oddball, even - amalgamation of action and romance, horror and comedy. With its deliciously weird sense of humor, its vigorous pace and its subtle but haunting ideas about death, "Odd Thomas" manages to divert and amuse - and it even packs a surprising emotional wallop.

Fans of the book will likely enjoy the film, even if the tale is truncated. More importantly, the film will introduce those not familiar with Koontz's novel to the literary character. The author has written a series of books around Odd Thomas, with titles such as "Forever Odd," "Brother Odd" "Odd Apocalypse" and "House of Odd." See the movie - then read the books.
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