Onyx the Fortuitous
and the Talisman of Souls
Director: Andrew Bowser
Starring: Andrew Bowser, Rivkah Reyes, Terrence Carson, Melanie Chandra, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Barbara Crampton, Ralph Ineson
Up there with Apocalypse Clown as the film with the oddest title at Fantasia International Film Festival 2023 is Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls - or Onyx the Fortuitous as this reviewer will refer to the film. Shortening it to simply Onyx would not do as that is the name of our lead character, or, indeed, the pseudonym he prefers to go by.
Onyx the Fortuitous (a Satanist) is the creation of YouTuber and online skitter Andrew Bowser, whom you may have seen in various short videos online parodying the news or delivering odd interviews in his own unique way. Now, as Onyx, Bowser has a very specific style and cadence that, if you can’t get on board with it, will destroy your chances of embracing this film.
"Fans of Onyx, and Bowser, will more than likely eat this up and it will be interesting to see how this fares with casual audiences and horror fans also."
That being said, I could not fully get on board with Onyx’s cadence and dialogue delivery, though I did not dislike the character overall, nearly two hours of being in his presence was not an experience I particularly enjoyed. Whilst Onyx had some high moments as a character, the film was strongest when screentime was shared amongst its ensemble of characters who were nearly as odd as he is. The story itself centres around Onyx who, along with Farrah (Dudley), Mack (Reyes), Jesminder (Chandra), and Mr. Duke (Carson), is invited to attend a special resurrection ritual at the spooky mansion belonging to his idol Bartok the Great (Combs). It would be all too easy if everything went to plan and it soon becomes apparent that Bartok’s plan, and the involvement of the invitees, is far more nefarious than any of them could agave ever imagined.
Onyx the Fortuitous is first and foremost a comedy, so what does a comedy need to be? Funny. The film does have some funny sequences or gags, but there are frustratingly more that fall flat or just clang. When the film consistently relies on Onyx’s small repertoire of catchphrases to get through scenes, you have to wonder about the decision to create a feature-length film from the idea of Onyx - the catchphrases wore thin fairly early on, and references alone cannot be jokes. Add to that the fact that the film is way, way too long with a two-hour runtime and you get the picture.
What the film did have was a collection of game performances as the cast seemed to get on board with the tone and felt like a solid collection of misfits, Terrence C. Carson especially stood out with his presence and performance, alongside horror stalwarts Barbara Crampton and Ralph Ineson in smaller roles. Onyx the Fortuitous also boasts some great practical effects and makeup, there is a real throwback feel to the horrors of the 1980s here and the passion and craftsmanship that went into designing and creating the monsters and nasties here is evident to see.
Fans of Onyx, and Bowser, will more than likely eat this up and it will be interesting to see how this fares with casual audiences and horror fans also. Whilst this did not fully work for me, it’s always pleasing to see a passion project being made within the genre. Whilst the idea carried intrigue and the film did deliver some humorous moments, sadly, Onyx the Fortuitous cannot sustain itself over its highly stretched runtime.
August 6th 2023