Wednesday, 28 August 2013



There used to be an aphorism, apparently, that there were three levels of CGI. Firstly, what the film actually needs; secondly, as much as the computers can possibly provide; and thirdly, what Stephen Sommers wants. Which probably has a grain of truth in it: the first two Mummy films, Van Helsing and the first G.I. Joe are all CGI-laden romps where any sense of human drama and character are buried under a thousand tons of whizzy effects. That's not to say they're not enjoyable films - I think G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra is one of the great underrated fantasy action romps of the last few years - but they're not the place to go for emotion. And then he goes and spoils it all with this adaptation of a Dean Koontz novel that comes with a punch-to-the-guts ending that reduced most of the gore-hardened FrightFest audience to blubbering schoolgirls. How the hell did that happen?

Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin) has a gift: he sees dead people, and he's made it his mission in life to bring their killers to justice when he can. But then a stranger turns up in town, and he's accompanied by bodachs: translucent demons (which no-one but Odd can see) that feast on imminent fear and tragedy. It becomes apparent there's some kind of terrifying plot to cause death and disaster on a vast scale, and only Odd can stop it....

It's a lot of fun with wit and charm, and it builds to a terrific action climax with bodachs by the thousand and the clock ticking. What pushes it into the five-star bracket is the genuinely unexpected, tragic but absolutely perfect ending that had pretty much everyone (else) in Empire 1 snuffling and pretending they'd got something in their eye. Not just unexpected in the context of the film (I haven't read the book) but unexpected in its effect, and the fact that it's written and directed by the man who made a film as incoherently senseless as Van Helsing. I really do hope the legal wrangles get sorted out quickly and the film can be properly released because it's absolutely fantastic, a close second favourite of FrightFest 2013 (so very narrowly beaten by The Last Days) and easily one of the best films of the year so far.


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