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onyx the fortuitous
A still from Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls by Andrew Bowser, an official selection of the Midnight section at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Movie Reviews

[Sundance ’23] ‘Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls’ review: Missed opportunity

It’s funny but…

Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls follows a man-child named Marcus Trillbury (the self-proclaimed title character). He has landed one of only five invitations to the mansion of his idol Bartok the Great in order to raise a powerful demon. It turns out something more nefarious is at hand and Onyx and his new friends must fight for their very souls.

The character of Onyx has been around the internet for about a decade now. Creator and actor Andrew Bowser (who also directed the film) was able to parlay this fame into a successful Kickstarter leading to this screening at the Sundance Film Festival. For many, how much they enjoy the film will depend on what they think of the character.

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Onyx is funny at first – think Gavin from The Kids in the Hall, but with a potty mouth. He is bullied and ignored, so he should be easy to root for. While he continues to get off occasional funny lines throughout the film, he will eventually begin to grate on all but the most patient audience members. There is not much depth to the character and he is very much a case of what you see is what you get.

Initially, Onyx the Fortuitous has a Saturday Night Live feel to it. Each segment seems more like a sketch made for the sole purpose of Onyx shenanigans than anything building to an actual story. (The character may actually be better served for short form comedy where his personality have less of a chance to become annoying.) Thankfully, once the group gathers, the straightforward story manages to come together nicely. 

Onyx the Fortuitous struggles to find a consistent tone, however. It has the look and feel of something that would have been found on Nickelodeon in the 1990s. This is by no means an insult, but it is confusing when it has the feel of something that would work great for younger audiences, but peppers its comedy with F-bombs and virgin comments. The jokes about Meatloaf and Chip and Dale’s Rescue Rangers also feel out of place. It ends up feeling like a big missed opportunity.

This is not to say that there is no fun to be had. Seeing Barbara Crampton reteam with Jeffrey Combs will certainly please horror fans, and there are some cool creature effects. Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls is fine entertaining fluff.

The Sundance Film Festival takes place from January 19 -29. Full lineup can be found HERE

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