Horror comedies are tricky to craft. They require witty dialogue combined with well-timed execution alongside a cast of hilarious characters. Some films can get away with missing one of these at times. Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls, playing at Sundance Film Festival, blunders a lot. Overly dramatic with dull characters, it’s a challenge to survive its 110-minute runtime.
Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls Is A Mouthpiece of Madness
Written, directed by, and starring Andrew Bowser as Marcus Tillbury, a.k.a. Onyx the Fortuitous starts with Onyx making a video to submit to a contest on his computer. This is the 90s because his pc looks like dial-up hell. His character speaks loudly, overly enunciating specific sounds and phrases. At first, you think it’s because of the video but no such luck. He talks like that all the time. After submitting the video online to win a visit to Bartok The Great’s mansion, he gathers his stuff for work.
A Lonely Life
His mom, Nancy (Barbara Crampton), intervenes between Onyx and his stepfather, Todd’s (Ryan Stanger) infantile bickering. After that childish interaction, he leaves for work. Onyx works in fast food with the same loud tone as though he’s a waiter shouting orders to the griller. Sympathy does rear up when a group of bullies arrive. They cover him in milkshakes and hamburgers. Annoying voice or not, it’s angering watching people bully someone. Onyx returns home and cries. But his fate appears to be changing for the better when he gets a notification. He is one of the contest’s winners.
The Gang’s All Here. . .To Bore
Onyx, along with four others, arrive at Bartok’s mansion. There’s intellectual Mr. Duke (Terrence ‘T.C.’ Carson), withdrawn Jasminder (Melanie Chandra), sunny Shelley (Arden Myrin), and friendly, outspoken Mack (Rivkah Reyes). Approaching the mansion presents immediate red flags. Before entering, they must put on a necklace with a peridot crystal hanging in a box. In exchange, they must leave a personal effect in the box. The entire cast do not stand out and you do not get invested in their characters. Spellcasting 101 is having an item of the person. Guess they didn’t get the memo.
Devil worshippers do not seem too keen on the details since they idolize Bartok (Jeffrey Combs). Once inside, he promises them immortal life. But first they must complete the stages of the ritual Bartok has in mind. Trusting this stranger and his sidekick Farrah (Olivia Taylor Dudley), things occur. The acting is not bad, but your mind drifts as they talk. Plus Andrew Bowser’s voice performance is the biggest drawback. That voice is irritating to the degree that it drowns out all else. In Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls, his attempt at humor feels like an annoying skit that lasts too long.
Few Praiseworthy Parts
The only hilarious part is Meatloaf’s “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That” music video parody. It’s funnier if you remember details about the music video. This section reenacts it with the same exaggerated flair populating the rest of the film. However, here, it’s effective. The animatronic puppets look amazing too. And the ending reference to Beetlejuice—a hilarious comedy—brings a smile. But the smile could be because the film is ending.
Though hopeful that Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls would join other horror comedies like Evil Dead, Freaky, and The Cabin in the Woods, the movie lacks the prerequisite comedy or scares. Despite decent acting, the film focuses too much on appearance. So the story falls by the wayside. Unnecessarily long runtime, zero witty or funny dialogue, and a voice that makes you want to scream Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls sucks the soul out of viewers. Onyx’s constant end phrase of “I don’t know” makes you understand how annoying Naruto’s “dattebayo”—or “believe it” in English—is for anime viewers.