Movies: Odd Thomas

Dean Koontz is one of my favorite authors, and Odd Thomas is one of my favorite books by Koontz. I was surprised, however, to discover that it had been made into a movie. Part of what appeals to me so much about the character of Odd Thomas is his “voice” – the way he tells his story and how he talks about himself and about life. That didn’t seem like it would translate well onto the screen.

But it does, surprisingly well, because the movie allows Odd to narrate the story, rather than just trying to display it through images and action. It’s not the same as the book, of course – a movie adaptation always has to pick and choose and leave out a great deal. But on the whole I think it is very faithful to the book – and I ended up choked up at the end of the movie just as I did at the end of the book.

One way in which the movie clashed with my impressions from the book is in its depiction of bodachs. In one of the Odd Thomas books, Odd describes bodachs as “ink-black, fluid in shape, with no more substance than shadows.” But  the director wanted to portray these spirits in a way not seen before, getting away from “the smoky effect seen so many times before.”

So rather than making the bodachs inky-black shadows, they use a “transparency-refractive render.” The movements seem insectoid, and I discovered that in fact the animators began with images resembling spiders and cockroaches. They modified these as the bodachs were to be spirits, not insects, but the impression remains.

The movie has received mixed reviews. The review at Cinemalogue complains that the movie “never becomes truly funny or scary.”Another review opines that Odd Thomas “should have been a scary horror movie with comic overtones, or a flat-out comedy with horror overtones.”

Well, the mix of somewhat funny and somewhat scary is part of what I like about it. What passes for funny in most movies does not amuse me much, and I certainly have no interest in horror movies. I agree with a different review, at Movie Dearest, that says Odd Thomas has “the best combination of scares, comedy, romance, eye-popping special effects and good ol’ sass since 1990’s Ghost.”

never becomes truly funny or scary
never becomes truly funny or scary
never becomes truly funny or scary

I have also seen a number of very positive reviews, mostly from others who like me had read and liked the book before seeing the movie. (I imagine people who read the book and did not like it would not bother watching the movie.) Perhaps our liking for Odd Thomas as a character made it easy to overlook flaws in the movie.

One nice thing about watching the movie was watching it with the family, none of whom had read any of Koontz’s books or seemed inclined to. My husband is now on the second Odd Thomas book. I don’t if he’ll get hooked on Dean Koontz books in general, but it’s always nice having someone else you know well who reads the same books.

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