Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls Review
PLOT: Onyx the Fortuitous is struggling to find purpose with his soul-devouring side gig when he receives a coveted invitation to the mansion of his idol, Bartok the Great. Here, he joins Bartok and his mysterious delegation to raise the spirit of an ancient demon for a once-in-a-lifetime ritual.
REVIEW: Adaptations are always tricky, let alone trying to adapt something like a character from YouTube. Yet somehow Andrew Bowser’s Onyx the Fortuitous works really well in the narrative here. Sure, there are going to be people that are driven crazy by his delivery but I found myself oddly charmed by it. And it doesn’t hurt that there’s a spectacular cast surrounding him that provides plenty of hilarity. I would hope that most know what they’re getting into when it comes to something called Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls. But you never know.
The story follows Onyx as he’s able to attend a ritual for his lifetime idol along with four other fans. But the ritual isn’t exactly what it was made out to be. The beats are pretty simple but it’s really the characters where this film shines. Andrew Bowser’s Onyx the Fortuitous is going to be a divisive character. Either you’re on board for his schtick or you find it annoying. There really isn’t an in-between. Take a look at the YouTube videos and see if it’s something you’d be into. Thankfully, I found Onyx charming with his over-the-top delivery and humor. I wasn’t familiar with Onyx prior to the film, so he really caught me off guard. There’s a certain charm and naivety he brings that works really well to balance the more in-your-face aspects of his performance. He’s easy to root for and plays the loveable loser well.
The rest of the cast is filled with character actors you’ll recognize but may not know by name. Arden Myrin always brings such chaotic energy to her roles and here is no different. If anything, I wanted more of her as the plucky Shelley. Rivkah Reyes was a nice surprise as I hadn’t seen her since School of Rock. She works well as an almost love interest for Onyx. And I kept having to do a double take with Terrance TC Carson as he seems to be playing a role meant for Keith David, clearly taking some inspiration in his performance.
Jeffrey Combs is his usual fantastic self as Bartok the Great. The man just knows how to play these larger-than-life occult characters very well. I do have to warn viewers not to get their hopes up for a Barbara Crampton and Jeffrey Combs reunion. While they are in the film, they don’t share any scenes, which feels like a missed opportunity. And one of the bigger surprises (outside of Bowser) was Olivia Taylor Dudley’s Farrah, who works as a perfect foil. I enjoyed the dynamic she shared with Combs. I particularly enjoyed that the chant Bartock says is the same one that Charles Lee Ray uses to put himself into the Good Guy Doll. Little moments like that will warm the heart of any horror fan.
The practical effects are really something special, with them having a very old-school feel to them. They’re often doing the “Ghostbusters” effect with practical effects being simply enhanced with animation. I loved how all the various ghouls looked and how much they avoided going fully CG-created creatures. These are very clearly puppets and that just makes me love the film even more. The tangible creatures work as a great juxtaposition to the many other films we’re seeing these days which are fully CGI and don’t even feel like they exist in the same world as what it’s in a frame with.
If I had to give the film any marks against it, the lighthearted tone sometimes fails to really establish any meaningful stakes. When someone dies, they just enter ghoul form so they’re still around. So there’s never really any concern over the fate of any of these characters. But as much as this is a love letter to horror and the occult, it’s still very much a comedy. So don’t go into this expecting any true scares.
Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls is the kind of movie I’ll be recommending to friends repeatedly over the next decade. Like Deathgasm and Jack Brooks Monster Slayer before it, Onyx manages to mix humor with horror in a massively entertaining way. By the time it was over, I just wanted to go on the journey all over again. More and more often, I just want to enjoy myself when watching a movie and this just oozes fun for its entire runtime. Andrew Bowser’s Onyx the Fortuitous is my kind of weird.
ONYX THE FORTUITOUS AND THE TALISMAN OF SOULS IS PLAYING ONE NIGHT ONLY WITH FATHOM EVENTS ON OCTOBER 19TH, 2023.