Mister Organ doesn’t fully earn its feature-length runtime, but the film still provides a cautionary look into a creepy character.
The world is an interesting, amazing, weird place. Investigative journalist and filmmaker David Farrier captures that third point quite effectively in his work. From his 2016 surprising Sundance hit Tickled to this new investigative thriller Mister Organ, Farrier finds some unusual characters, often to make broader points about society. Mister Organ gives audiences Farrier’s most complex, creepy character yet, reminding everyone of the potentially life-ruining narcissists who exist only to seek destruction. This documentary may not earn its feature-length runtime, but it does fruitfully fulfill its mission: scrutinizing its central character and those in the world just like him.
Mister Organ begins with a quirky but seemingly unimportant investigation from Farrier into Bashford Antiques in New Zealand. The shop implemented a strict car clamping policy, leading to complaints and negative press coverage from Farrier and others. After discovering the car clamper as a man going by the name of Michael Organ, Farrier dives further into the strange, unsettling story of this offbeat character, leading to a web of psychological torment.
Farrier’s previous efforts as a filmmaker highlight his ability of finding the bizarre in our “normal” society. In that vein, Mister Organ feels like fiction shot in a documentary style as opposed to a work of real journalism because of the sinister aura surrounding Organ himself. Farrier’s skills as a journalist shine through with his ability to hold conversations with Organ, a man who clearly thinks and communicates differently than anyone with whom Farrier (or any of us) has ever interacted.
Organ is clearly a fascinating individual, adding a level of intrigue that persists until the end. Farrier portrays his antagonist as intelligent, crafty, and corrupt to the core. Organ would agree with all but that last assertion; he constantly portrays himself as the hero of his own tale, despite the countless number of victims he left in his wake, victims whom Farrier interviews and gains insight from. As the revelations about Organ’s past begin to unravel, the audience realizes who truly evil this man is. More specifically, the film insinuates that this evil is everywhere in our society, due to the number of troubled individuals our institutions have abandoned. Farrier plays up Organ’s original and disquieting personality – Organ often feels more like a David Fincher villain than a real human – and the results are beyond successful… until they’re not.
The first 30 minutes of Mister Organ quite convincingly introduce its audience to this wild mystery Farrier is trying to solve. However, it becomes obvious that Farrier did not have enough material here to stretch out into a full-length feature film. At 96 minutes, this film goes through more than a couple lulls. Information is repeated, and sections feel more dragged out than necessary. Additionally, Farrier often spoon-feeds his audience gratuitously, rather than letting the shock value of his documentary footage play out naturally. More focus on the film’s thematic undertones about society and institutions would have warranted a longer runtime, but Farrier either did not have the resources or simply did not care to examine this material beyond the surface level. The surface level, granted, is quite terrifying, but this doc clearly had the chance to be more important than it ends up being.
Mister Organ probably does not have enough content to adequately fill its feature-length runtime. It sets up its own opportunity to make deeper connections but stays put as a character examination and a display of psychological warfare between Farrier and Organ. While it would have been nice to see Farrier take that next step as a filmmaker and storyteller, Mister Organ still ultimately finds success and being a quirky, creepy cautionary tale.
Mister Organ will open in theaters in NY and LA on October 6 and nationwide across the US and Canada from October 13, 2023.