This is Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin), and yes, that is his real name, either because he was supposed to be called Todd and there was a misspelling on the birth certificate or it was intentional since many of his East European ancestors were called that. His parents could never agree on it, but then they couldn't agree on anything much which could be why his mother shot his father and was locked up for good shortly afterwards. Not the best start in life for a young man, but he wasn't ambitious, happy with his job as a restaurant chef and his childhood sweetheart Stormy (Addison Timlin) at his side, and the small matter of his ability to see dead people - they can see him, as well.
So goes Yelchin's constant, conversational, overexplanatory narration. Odd Thomas was going to be a fairly big summer release in 2013, but it didn't work out that way as the production was plagued with financial problems and ended up sneaking out to a few cinemas in the United States and straight to DVD elsewhere; that's DVD, in the UK it didn't even merit a Blu-ray. Quite a comedown for director and writer Stephen Sommers who was no stranger to blockbusters before this, and based on a popular series of novels by successful author Dean R. Koontz which really should have had a built in audience eager to see the hero make the jump from page to screen. On watching it, you can understand why they thought it would make a good movie, but there were issues.
For a start, the lack of budget meant that while there was some gleaming, warm, widescreen photography to offset the cast and locations, the effects were a step down from Sommers' work in the first of his Mummy movies, making this appear far less like it belonged in a cinema and far more like you were being invited to tune in for the next few weeks for a new television mystery series. Part of that could be Koontz's plot, which was the kind of thing Buffy the Vampire Slayer would have to tackle episode upon episode, but also those fancy accoutrements which just looked plain televisual rather than the expensive effects Sommers had evidently planned for. This meant if anything it looked better in the home environment.
What Odd has to tackle this episode - the film even has a coda optimistically suggesting everyone involved were hoping for a franchise to fashion out of the series of novels - is nothing less than the threat of the apocalypse, there in his hometown. He is alerted to this by his visions of a nineties computer game hoving into view, or rather apparitions which hang around those who are about to suffer a mishap less than impressively rendered by somewhat impoverished CGI, and currently far too many are congregating around a strange chap he calls Fungus Bob (Shuler Hensley) who wandered into the restaurant one day, though Odd cannot make it clear he can see those phantoms or else they will turn on him, so he surreptitiously follows Bob and finds he is something of a wild card.
In the meantime his work colleague Viola Peabody (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) alerts him that she has had a nightmare where she saw a bunch of corpses somehow connected to the local bowling alley; Odd reassures her dreams like that hardly ever come true, but this brews in the back of his mind, such an obvious example of foreshadowing that you would be foolish to dismiss it yourself. There was also Willem Dafoe in a nothing role as the local detective who Odd catches killers for (apparently there are a lot of murders in this part of the world) since the dead worldlessly hang around until he can solve their crimes, unofficially of course because the police department cannot admit supernatural assistance in the course of their duty, but you wish an actor of Dafoe's calibre had more to do than this strictly from stock figure offered him - you did get to see him cry, however, as the ending mechanically attempts to bring you to tears. After all that, the impression is the person crying the most was Sommers, his promising franchise frittered away thanks to issues out of his control. Music by John Swihart.