What critics are saying about Tickled director David Farrier’s new doco Mister Organ

Tickled director David Farrier is back with Mister Organ, and like his previous feature doco it heads into uncharted territory after some relatively innocuous beginnings. Dominic Corry rounds up some of the reactions after Mister Organ’s world premiere at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas.

Since attaining some measure of global prominence with his surprising and bizarre documentary Tickled in 2016, Kiwi documentarian/journalist/filmmaker (or as a recent Celebrity Family Feud appearance would have us believe, “Actor/Filmmaker”) David Farrier has maintained a visible presence via his Netflix series Dark Tourist, podcasts Armchaired & Dangerous and Flightless Bird and his breakout substack Webworm, which continues to hold the vile to account with admirable persistence.

But now he’s finally releasing his theatrical documentary follow-up to Tickled, and it’s promising to be every bit as squirmy as the unclassifiable 2016 movie.

Mister Organ concerns a man in Auckland, New Zealand named Michael Organ who come into Farrier’s purview five years ago when he overzealously clamped a car that belonged to a friend of Farrier’s.

Farrier wrote an article about it, and the whole thing escalated wildly. The story has had a lot of ups and downs since then as Farrier has chronicled his interactions with this strange man who seems to negatively impact everyone he encounters.

The film had its world premiere over the weekend at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, and initial reactions have been streaming through since then.

Industry website The Wrap described the film as “a captivating portrait of a con artist”and praised how Farrier captures “the miasmic anxiety that surrounds his mysterious subject.” But reviewer Simon Abrams also said the film fails to address a key question: “Why would you make a movie about an obviously unstable and potentially dangerous creep like Michael Organ?”

Indiewire’s David Ehrlich, one of the most eloquent and vital film critics working today, is similarly skeptical of the film’s reasons for existing: “At this point in his career, Farrier seems like a kid who keeps getting his head stuck between the balusters of a staircase because he wants to make a spectacle of pulling it out”, but acknowledges the “extremely likeable” Farrier’s ability to entertain:

“That isn’t to say his movies aren’t enjoyable, or their subjects unworthy of the scrutiny Farrier gives them, only that it keeps getting harder to shake the suspicion that he’s digging the same rabbit holes that he films himself falling down.”

While Ehrlich clearly had a good time watching the film, he ultimately thinks Farrier didn’t march it far enough: “Organ comes off as a compulsively obnoxious charlatan who manipulates people for sport and lives free of the consequences that Farrier’s documentary is hoping to confront him with.”

Slash Film’s Chris Evangalista is more effusive, describing the film as “darkly funny” and “frequently horrifying”. Evangalista enjoys how the film replicates Tickled‘s trajectory by “start[ing] off as one thing before slowly transforming into a completely different, and far more disturbing story”.

Over on Letterboxd, there’s a typically wide variety of initial reactions, ranging from oscarharding’s observation: “Cosmic horror in documentary form. A chilling masterpiece of mundane, destructive dread” to stueygeorge’s rather savage assessment that “Farrier didn’t have enough for a film so decided to make it about himself failing to gather enough material for a documentary.”

Sarah R says she was “intrigued and afraid for David the entire time” while Jenny Nulf calls it a “fun, eerie character study about a man who would trap you in his insanity forever if you let him.”

On Twitter, David A. Delrie reacted to the film by saying that “Farrier is perhaps the most hapless human interest writer of all time. The ground drops out beneath him yet again while researching something completely innocuous in a documentary that is infuriating, hilarious, and confounding.”

While Jacob Hall captures the general sense of horror when he says that “this movie is a slow-motion nightmare. It made me feel bad for everyone unfortunate enough to make it, because it meant spending time with Mister Organ himself.”

Katie Rife comes up with a great description, calling it “an interview with a real-life energy vampire—and a long list of his victims”. Adding “David Farrier’s follow up to Tickled stares into the brain-breaking void of New Zealand’s most malevolently boring man.”