Sundance 2023: ONYX THE FORTUITOUS AND THE TALISMAN OF SOULS is a Hell of a good time!

That weird Satanic game guy from those viral videos gets his own full length movie, and it’s actually REALLY damn good!

I think I first came across Andrew Bowser’s, alter ego Onyx the Fortuitous sometime in 2015, after viewing the viral “E3 Weird Gamer Guy” video. In the video, which starts out like your standard amateur gamer site E3 vlog, we have a woman gamer interviewing con attendees, when she comes across the awkward, bearded, fedora wearing, black clad Onyx (Andrew Bowser). After a few false starts the man who feels like an amalgam of cringe fandom stereotypes literally begins machine gunning meme-worthy sound bites that sounded like they were honed to perfection in his basement lair just for this moment. By the end of the interview Onyx is professing his love to the interviewer, while she stands there a bit shell shocked by what just transpired.

Every few years a new video with a similar vibe would come across my feed with Onyx as the interview subject in various scenarios. I began to notice the older ones would also bubble up through various social media every few years, where these kinds of stereotypical soundbites are relentlessly recycled, exploited and shared for hits, clicks and clout, which showed how well Andrew understood the machine. It wasn’t till TikTok hit during the pandemic and Onyx was once again served up to me by the almighty algorithm, that I realized he was an elaborate Andy Kaufman-eque character performance. It also didn’t hurt that Andrew broke character for his Kickstarter which ended up raising $600,000 for a feature length adventure the trip pants wearing satanist that just premiered at Sundance.

The feature length Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls has our favorite Marty’s Meat Hut employee Marcus Trillbury aka Onyx winning a contest to attend a gathering with four other lucky souls at a secluded mansion hosted by their favorite occultist and idol Bartok the Great (Jeffrey Combs). After a series of team building rituals over the weekend retreat, the group hopes to then summon the ancient demon Abadon and gain immortality in the process. The only issue is Bartok and his Delegate Farrah (Olivia Taylor Dudley) might have something more sinister planned for his five biggest fans. It’s an ambitious setup that makes good on its pulpy promises, while Onyx makes friends out of his fellow outsiders.

Given the viral video source, I have to admit Onyx was a remarkably fun foray into the world of this character. The creatures and monster designs were pretty damn cool, the performances felt solid and I really appreciated how before diving into the more magical second act, Bowser makes sure to ground Onyx and make you really feel for the guy. He’s bullied, he lives with his mom (Barbara Crampton) and his stepdad, and if you’re a fan of Onyx you no doubt probably see something of yourself in him. Because of that we start the film with a foothold in Onyx’s perspective, and while we are given permission to laugh at him, we are still rooting for him, which is something I didn’t expect.

Given the origin of the character, I have to admit I almost didn’t know what to expect.

From the cast of horror icons, to the needle drops, to the practical VFX, it feels like Andrew really put every penny from that Kickstarter on screen to good use to further curate and build out Onyx’s world. That’s not to say the film’s script isn’t equally impressive with its humor and nostalgically charged narrative, which thankfully never descends into camp. Bowser never looks down on Onyx instead he celebrates him and this diversity and those that rally behind him. Simply put, Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls is a hell of a good time, and is the best case scenario given the setup and source. I am just still in disbelief at how good this film was and how I even want a sequel. Seriously, when Andrew?

Still of Indigo Girls from IT'S ONLY LIFE AFTER ALL. Previous post Sundance 2023: IT’S ONLY LIFE AFTER ALL
Next post Sundance 2023: MY ANIMAL Offers up a Queer Sexual Awakening through the Prism of Lycanthropy