Like the kid in The Sixth Sense, the hero of this film, Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin), can see dead people. Only, in this film, Thomas is an adult and he uses his abilities to catch the people who killed the dead people: “I see dead people, but then, by God, I do something about it.” Helping him in this regard are his supportive girlfriend Stormy (Addison Timlin) and the Chief of Police (Willem Dafoe), who knows about his abilities and trusts him completely – this thankfully avoids the “the police think I’m the bad guy” cliché.
As Thomas investigates the man, who Thomas nicknames Fungus Bob, he uncovers a plot to kill a lot of people, which meshes with a dream he has in which he sees a bowling team get murdered. As he investigates, Thomas discovers that the plot is larger than he originally expected.
In the opening paragraph, I called this a horror-comedy, but that’s not really all that accurate. For one thing, this film isn’t scary. There are a few moments where some tension is created, but that’s about it. Instead, the film goes for tense and even that is alleviated by the comedic overtones of Yelchin’s narration and the utter lack of fear displayed by the supporting characters. That said, the film isn’t a comedy either. There are a few moments that might make you laugh, like how Willem Dafoe seems to be having sex every time Thomas calls him, but it’s nothing that will make you laugh out loud and there aren’t any jokes you will recall.
So if this isn’t a horror-comedy, and it’s not a mystery or a thriller or a tent-pole film, what is it? Well, I’d say this is a quirky film along the lines of the original Fright Night or An American Werewolf in London. This is a film that thrives by giving you an unusual character you like, who goes through an adventure involving something unnatural and they must use their unusual traits and their ingenuity to solve the movie. And while you know the film will definitely end well for the hero, what holds your interest is the steadily rising challenge the character faces, the odd twists and turns along the way, and the fact you like the character and the world they inhabit.
That said, I should provide a note of caution. Films like this tend to be cult films. Either you have a taste for this type of film, or you don’t. Either you get the humor, which is quite subtle, or you don’t. Either you can stomach the ambiguity throughout, or you can’t, as the film does not force-feed you everything you need to know. The critics hated this film, giving it a 34% rating, but I suspect this film will find its audience and will be recognized as a cult classic within a decade.
** As an aside, this one may be difficult to find. It's on Netflix and DVD, but legal issues apparently kept it out of theaters.