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Odd Thomas (2013) | The late Anton Yelchin stars in a frenetic adaptation of Dean Koontz’s supernatural thriller

Odd Thomas

In the Californian desert town of Pico Mundo, 20-year-old clairvoyant Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin) becomes convinced a mysterious man is connected to some terrible catastrophe that is about to occur. With the help of a kindly police chief (Willem Dafoe) and girlfriend Stormy (Addison Timlin), Odd then sets out to unravel the mystery…

Odd Thomas

Did you know that this life is just a boot camp for the next? Well, that’s the kind of platitudes that pour out of this glossy adaptation of Dean Koontz’s 2003 novel from Stephen Sommers, the man behind those cartoon-like Mummy films with Brendan Fraser. But if he’s hoping for another money-spinning franchise with Koontz’s novel, which has spawned a host of sequels and graphic novels, then he’s missed the mark on this one.

The late Anton Yelchin’s portrayal of Koontz’ dorky clairvoyant ghost buster is just plain annoying. Odd might be a nerd, but he’s also a wisecracking smart-arse whose ‘psychic magnetism’ makes him attractive to every girl he meets. He’s so full of himself, given to cloying statements like ‘Evil is coming and it’s up to me to find out whose holding the gun’, that the film quickly becomes irksome. And this isn’t helped by butt-clenching dialogue like: ‘I’m a woman. We all have issues. It’s what keeps us interesting and you men interested’.

It’s a shame really because the film has a kooky kinetic energy and features some genuinely frightening CGI monsters, the bodach: wraith-like spirits that can literally smell death. But Sommers’ sledgehammer approach makes it hard for the viewer to feel for Odd, especially in the film’s closing moments when our All American hero saves the day but endures a terrible personal loss.

Odd Thomas gets its Film4 premiere screening today at 9pm; and is available on DVD in the UK from Metrodome Distrbution, and can also be rented for £3.45 from Metrodome VOD.


Antichrist (2009) | Lars von Trier’s brutal psychological horror cuts to the very core of human despair

Lars Von Trier's Antichrist

From the mad genius of Lars von Trier comes this brutal, heart-wrenching horror drama about pain, grief and despair. Anyone who has experienced the loss of a child should beware for the maverick director’s melodrama cuts to the core; to the raw emotions that one feels when such a tragedy happens. And it’s not a pretty sight.

Lars Von Trier's Antichrist

Following the funeral of son Nick, who fell to his death while his parents had sex (graphically display here), Willem Dafoe’s emotionless therapist takes his wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg) to their cabin in the woods for some closure. But Eden, the name they have given to this sanctuary, is a place the wife has grown to fear. So her husband uses his therapist skills to get to the root of problem, which all harks back to something terrible that happened the summer before. What follows is a surreal nightmare, filled with potent imagery, as the wife descends into the black hole that has replaced her soul.

Lars Von Trier's Antichrist

Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist is no joy to watch, but its totally compelling. The way he makes nature appear foreboding, even supernatural, is quite a feat. And by incorporating dreams into the narrative (à la Un chien andalou), he creates an almost spectral presence out of the seemingly ordinary (do acorns really cry?). The graphic scenes will make you wince, but no more so than if you have ever sat through Ai no corrida (1976), which parallels this film in its portrayal of obsession. In fact, watching von Trier’s graphic melodrama, other intensely personal films are brought to mind, including most of Bergman’s canon, especially Hour of the Wolf, as well as more modern fare like The Shining and Misery – though much more brutal, graphic and downright shocking.

Lars Von Trier's Antichrist

Charlotte Gainsbourg (who even dresses like Shelley Duvall’s Shining character in one scene) delivers her lines in monotone, but her performance comes from the emotion she feels from within. Hers is a brilliantly constructed physical performance. As for William Defoe, he holds all the emotion in, but gives an equally visceral performance – especially in the last half of the film (DIY experts take note, always keep a spare wrench to hand).

If you think von Trier went berserk with Dogville and Manderlay, then Antichrist is the director taking one more step over the precipice. Is this cinema on the very edge or just an art house travesty? Are you brave enough to judge for yourself?

Antichrist screens on Film4 (Sky 315/HD342, Virgin 428/HD 429, Freeview 15, Freesat 300) on Monday 24 February 11.10pm and is available to stream from ArtificialEyeFilms (Cert: 18).

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