David Farrier has made a career out of having a certain affinity for objectively strange people. As a journalist and documentarian, he has a tendency to find people that sometimes aren’t just peculiar in aesthetic, but ill-intentioned in their lives of oddity. In previous works like Dark Tourist and Tickled, Farrier stands steadfast in the face of even the most threatening types of weirdos, having a sort of unaffected energy that seems to encourage them to express themselves more and more — even if it is through oddities and fits of rage.
But in his latest documentary, Mister Organ, Farrier seems to have nearly met his match in Michael Organ. Organ, the documentary’s subject, is a man of seemingly familial wealth (though his relationship with his family seems to be strained), spends his days enacting random acts of sadism: putting boots on people’s cars if they are in the wrong parking lot and charging them nearly $800 to remove it, taking people to court for minor cases (and almost always legally representing himself), or just flat out lying about who he is — ranging from claims that he’s royalty to claims that he’s a lawyer (he is neither, as has been proven many times over).
The games Michael Organ plays are strange, but what makes him truly off-putting and nefarious — and what is so well-highlighted as the thesis of this documentary — is simply his essence. As Farrier finds himself spending more and more time with Organ in hopes of pulling together a film (the idea of which Organ is hot and cold on: sometimes welcoming David and his cameras, other times threatening him and the crew, he realizes the most horrific part of Organ is simply his conman persona. Reminiscent of an energy vampire a la What We Do In The Shadows, Organ drains those around him through hours-long conversations where he harps on the same points and gives round-about answers, and through mind games that aren’t technically illegal ( like somehow obtaining your house key “through a friend”), but are severely off-putting.
As the documentary progresses, Mister Organ becomes less about Organ’s transgressions (though the documentary includes many horrific accounts), and more about Farrier being sucked into the cycle that Organ seems to trap so many people in — slowly chipping hours off of Farrier’s life that he is increasingly aware he will never get back, with the empty promise of some grand revelation or moment that never really comes. He is existential dread personified.
Through the aesthetics of Mister Organ, Farrier sets the tone to feel like it may end with one of those grand revelations that comes with so many character studies and true crime docs..Instead, the documentary presents us with a different kind of terrifying — a glimpse into the mind of someone who is truly and totally insufferable. It fascinates in the most boring and irritating way possible. The documentary, more than anything, makes you glad you can watch this guy from a distance and not have to speak to him yourself, and not have him worm his way into your orbit as he did Farrier’s.