“Odd Thomas” is “Ghost Whisperer” for men?

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Odd Thomas is a 2013 film released on DVD earlier this year and based on a series of supernatural thrillers by New York Times best selling author Dean Koontz. I watched it the other day on Netflix because, in the trailers, it bore some resemblance to John Dies at the End, a 2012 film adaptation of the SF comedy horror book of the same name by Cracked writer David Wong.

John Dies at the End had a kind of ridiculous Beavis and Butthead meets Twilight Zone story, or as director Don Coscarelli said, “a mash-up of Douglas Adams and Stephen King.” But, I didn’t find anything light-hearted, clever or funny about Odd Thomas‘ plodding, predictable plot punctuated by pointless “witty banter” (I use air quotes here in sarcasm).

While the silvery, stringy antagonists seem like something out of science fiction, they’re not. They are a unique take on demons, and the evil in the movie is blamed on Satanism, not science. Which made me wonder if Odd were only one letter away from “G-odd,” with his special powers and savior status.

I’d prefer sci-fi to supernatural, but no big deal. What really bothered me about this movie is that every woman in the film is either scantily clad or providing sex, or both.

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Even Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Viola, a maternal figure raising two girls on her own, is wearing something that looks like she’s just a pair of melons in a string bag. Stormy’s shirt is sure to reveal her belly button, when she’s not wearing Daisy Duke shorts or just underwear.

I’m not a prude, and I don’t mind women wearing whatever they want to wear and feeling happy with their bodies. But these women aren’t wearing what they chose to wear. They’re wearing what was chosen for them. Every aspect of a movie production happens for a reason, and when juxtaposed with Odd’s conservative attire, it felt like blatant objectification.

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oddthomas8You could argue the film takes place in a warm climate, but then why is Odd in a long-sleeved BLACK shirt and long pants while cooking over a hot grill, on a bright sunny day? Willem Dafoe goes shirtless, but I wouldn’t say he’s enough to balance the cast of busty eye candy, in spite of his lothario role in The Night and the Moment.

From the spirit of a raped and murdered girl in the opening scene, to the girls (not boys) being raised by Viola, to Odd’s female friends, the females are not there to be equal agents, they are there to be helpless and in the sort of peril from which only Odd can possibly rescue them — though he fails to do so, more than once… unless, of course, you’re his one MALE friend (Dafoe). And if they are full-grown women, they are there to be ogled.

There is very truly a refrigerator in the movie, full of body parts, and I was surprised the dead women (yes, sorry, spoilers, there’s more than one) didn’t end up stuffed in it.

Odd Thomas seemed to be Ghost Whisperer for men, though my husband fell asleep halfway through. Wish I had.

Have you seen it? I think I might have appreciated it more if I’d read the books, because I might have cared about the characters or understood Odd’s fashion choices. But a movie really should stand on its own, shouldn’t it? Meanwhile, I’m currently enjoying the heck out of This Book is Full of Spiders, the sequel to John Dies at the End.

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2012-jenJ.L. Hilton is the author of the STELLARNET SERIES published by Carina Press, including Stellarnet Rebel (January 2012) and Stellarnet Prince (November 2012), and is a regular contributor to Contact-Infinite Futures and CharlotteGeeks.com. She also creates cool wearable things that are featured in the books Steampunk Style Jewelry and 1000 Steampunk Creations. Visit her at JLHilton.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads and deviantART.

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3 comments

  1. Having read the books, if Stormy came across as little more than eye-candy, they really screwed this up.

    1. I got the feeling I was supposed to like her–I wanted to like her–I wanted to see her do something more than stand around in cute outfits and soft focus, while the narrator repeated that they were “meant to be together forever” AGAIN and cut-to-scene-of-them-standing-in-front-of-a-fortune-teller.

  2. Chase Sheridan · · Reply

    As I watched, I was somewhat taken aback by SEVERAL very apparent nods to Ghost Whisperer, including the cleavage displays, but when everything was taking place in what looked like the exact same town square as Melinda’s, and the silver spooks looked Aidens “dark spirits” , it just seemed too much of a GW rip off.

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