THE STORY – Amateur occultist Marcus J. Trillbury, aka Onyx the Fortuitous, is struggling. He’s misunderstood at home and work, but his dreams for a new life seem to be answered when he lands a coveted invitation to the mansion of his idol Bartok the Great for a ritual to raise the spirit of an ancient demon. He excitedly joins Bartok and his fellow eclectic group of devotees as they prepare for the ceremony, but it becomes apparent that everything is not as it seems. As Onyx and his new friends fight to keep their souls, he must decide what he’s willing to sacrifice in order to meet his destiny.
THE CAST – Andrew Bowser, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Jeffrey Combs, Ralph Ineson, Rivkah Reyes & T.C. Carson
THE TEAM – Andrew Bowser (Director/Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 110 Minutes
Movies of all sizes nowadays seem to be looking backward as, like it or not, time keeps moving forward. “Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls” is yet another loving throwback to the movies of yesterday, namely the kind of schlocky character-driven horror that thrived in the 1980s. And while some of the practical monster effects are delightfully old-fashioned, the film is otherwise pointedly modern in its filmmaking. That, combined with a general childish, annoying sense of humor, makes the film an overall taxing time.
Marcus J. Trillbury, aka Onyx the Fortuitous (Andrew Bowser), isn’t living the life he’s dreamed of. He lives with his mom and her mean-spirited boyfriend and is stuck at a dead-end fast-food job. But his prospects start to look up when the amateur occultist is invited to participate in a special ritual at the home of his idol, Bartok the Great. But things quickly take a demonic turn, and it’s up to Onyx to rescue both himself and his newfound friends from the forces of hell.
Bowser is the film’s central artistic guide, serving as the writer, director, and star. In that way, it’s admirable that he so clearly has a strong awareness and command of his artistic perspective, and he’s indeed committed to the bit. Unfortunately, his creative ethos is sure to grate on viewers. Many of the jokes revolve around the misanthropic, awkward persona of the titular character, whether it’s others making snide observations about him or Onyx’s very own off-putting comments. This cringe type of humor has earned Bowser’s character his fans, as a quick search will prove that he’s gone viral a few times while performing as him in public or on news broadcasts. Clearly, this alter ego has worked for him so far, but for those not already won over, Onyx is a difficult and problematic character to spend nearly two hours within a feature-length film. He’s on-screen for practically the entire movie, and his specific brand of humor delivered through a bold yet irritating choice of vocal style makes the film a shockingly tough watch.
Without a doubt, the film’s greatest achievement is its use of practical effects. The various monsters and demons that pop up throughout the film are all modeled in the latex style of the past. Some are large puppets, and some are actors wearing costumes, but either way, they’re all impressively designed and a true delight to watch in movement. However, this choice does have the unfortunate effect of making the film’s other visual elements look worse by comparison. In a break from the film’s throwback atmosphere, there are occasional moments of supplemental CGI, which stands out as looking ironically even cheaper than the intentionally corny practical monsters. The film is also shot in a slickly digital, contemporary style, dampening the nostalgic energy the film is trying so desperately to capture.
For those who’ve already been won over by Onyx’s exploits in our real world, “Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls” will surely be a treat. But for the uninitiated, the film will only come across as hollow at best and annoying at worst.