Review by Sean Boelman
Between his film Tickled and his Netflix series Dark Tourist, New Zealand journalist/filmmaker David Farrier has become the go-to guy for documentaries about the darkest corners of society. His newest movie, Mister Organ, promises to investigate another unhinged subject, and it plays out in a way that is expectedly entertaining.
In the film, Farrier begins exploring a shocking (but legal) parking lot extortion scam, sending him down a rabbit hole that proves to be one of the most personal stories he has investigated yet. It’s the type of strange-but-true follow-up that audiences would expect from the person who made Tickled.
Mister Organ is admittedly somewhat dependent on audiences having at least a passing familiarity with Farrier’s work and style. For those who haven’t already acquainted with Farrier’s unique style of gonzo journalism, this probably isn’t a great introduction, as its story is even weirder and more random than his claim to fame.
That being said, the escalation of events that occurs in this movie is nothing short of bizarre — especially given how it started with a person putting locks on people’s tires in a parking lot and turned into a full-fledged case of stalking and harassment. Admittedly, at a certain point, audiences will be left to wonder whether it’s Farrier’s own fault because he is definitely taking things too far, but it’s entertaining nonetheless.
The major flaw with Farrier’s approach to this story is that it doesn’t seem to know what approach to take with Michael Organ. While Tickled has a clear stance — exposing the dark underbelly of the internet in all its disgusting ways — Mister Organ attempts something much more akin to moral ambiguity, and it doesn’t work.
Farrier also fails to connect this story with any sort of greater social context. Part of this is just the nature of the story, as this story doesn’t really represent anything deeper about New Zealand society, but this means that the film largely struggles to find any real reason to exist beyond the story being weird.
The blend of investigative journalism and sleek filmmaking that Farrier brings to the table certainly makes things feel a lot more compelling than they might otherwise be. Farrier knows that his main goal here is to entertain and that he isn’t making some sort of groundbreaking exposé or anything informative for the viewer.
Mister Organ sets out to tell a wild true story, and thanks to the distinctive gonzo style of filmmaker David Farrier, it mostly succeeds. Although it’s hardly as fascinating as Tickled, it’s still a compelling, weird enough story to make it worth watching.
Mister Organ screened at the 2022 edition of Fantastic Fest, which runs September 22-29 in Austin, TX and September 29-October 4 virtually.