Contributing Writer; Toronto, Canada (@triflic)

There are many flavours of hubris. An over inflated or confident self image we attempt to project out to the world. What we think we know or what we think we deserve deserve. The faith we place in our idols, our gods, in all of these things.

I was rather suprised to see this explored, albeit often in a middle school-yard, potty-mouthed kind of way, in Andrew Bowser's Onyx The Fortuitous And The Talisman of Souls (hereafter: Talisman of Souls).

For years, his "Weird Satanist Guy" persona has been posted to YouTube, with Onyx The Fortuitous crashing local news live-hits with his too-intense satanic stances, and not-quite-cosplay dress-up. Many of these bits go viral precisely because they walk the fine line of 'is this guy for real?' in the context of man on street interviews, and satire of the format.

The hysteria of the 1980s satanic panic and Anton LaVey's Church of Satan, or the modern-day Satanic Temple performance-activists have certainly paved a footpath in the mainstream consciousness. I also think of this in the same way that Kevin Smith crashed a conservative news piece by posing as a random protestor of his own film, Dogma, while claiming to have not actually seen the movie.

With this feature film Talisman of Souls, Boswer has radically changed the rules of the game, and created a kind of Scooby-Doo meets Kids in The Hall meets Full Moon Pictures universe for the character to become a full fledged person. The story is now framed from Onyx's point of view, as someone who is bullied on the job (flipping burgers, or in the parlance of the film, slinging patties) by customers and his boss, and as a neglected child, who, as a grown man, lives at home with his mom (Barbara Crampton in a small cameo) and step-father.

Onyx has retreated into the fantasy of his preschool toys and cartoons, and via the internet, dabbled in the dark arts to form some sort of cohesive, protective shell of an identity. The care and time put into this sort of character building offers more opportunity to get behind the strange journey of our stunted hero, but this comes at the cost of explaining why the character was an 'online hit' in the first place. Bowser's particular vocal rhythms and way of processing the world, while he is the hero of his own story, do strain a bit at feature length.

After re-establishing Onyx in this new light, Bowser adds a swanky gothic mansion location for the remainder of the film, and a whole host of new characters to help solve the mystery of Bartok the Great, played by an unrecognizably bald and goatee'd Jeffrey Combs. For all of those who were turned off by HBO Max's Velma, the goofy rhythms and foul language of Talisman of Souls might fill in the sucking vacuum of a 'soft R' style riff on Mystery Inc. shenanigans, and meddling kids.

Talisman of Souls is not explicitly bloody or sexual, but instead these things are handled conversationally. Much time and effort was put into 1980s practical effects, in the vein of the original Fright Night, or Joe Dante's Amblin' features.

Shot on a shoe-string, crowdfunded budget, the film feels a bit padded at 108 minutes, and the story occasionally strays meanders off its path, as if the screenplay was a draft or two away from being fully polished. Maybe that is the point of this kind of larkish nostalgia, to be a bit shaggy, and let a bit of comedic hubris lead the way. Onyx The Fortuitous is all grown up now and perhaps ready to lose his virginity.

Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls

  • Andrew Bowser
  • Andrew Bowser
  • Olivia Taylor Dudley
  • Jeffrey Combs
  • Barbara Crampton
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Andrew BowserBarbara CramptonJeffrey CombsOlivia Taylor DudleyONYX THE FORTUITOUS AND THE TALISMAN OF SOULSRivkah ReyesSatanismComedyHorror

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