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Documentary Review: 'Mister Organ'

Mister Organ is enthralling, infuriating and rather terrifying on a very human level.

By Sean PatrickPublished 5 months ago 7 min read

Mister Organ (2023)

Directed by David Farrier

Written by David Farrier

Starring David Farrier, Michael Organ

Release Date October 6th, 2023

Published October 6th, 2023

"And then it hits you, he can talk and even confess to these people living in this place because he knows, and we know in many ways, no one will believe them. " Sean Patrick as he stopped the movie and stepped away to gather himself.

That was the thought that punched me in the gut as I finished watching David Farrier's incredible new documentary, Mister Organ. Once again, the director and creator of the brilliantly funny, brutal, and insightful documentary, Tickled, has found himself tangled in the most unlikely of webs. As a journalist in New Zealand, David became curious about a series of complaints that were filed by people who claimed to have been scammed by what David refers to as a 'Clamper.'

David Farrier

A clamper is someone who literally places a wheel clamp on cars. In this case, the clamper was clamping the wheels of cars parked near an antiques store in Ponsonby, Auckland, New Zealand. The pattern went that someone would unknowingly park near the store, unaware that they were parking on private property. The minute they were away from their vehicle, the clamper would strike and place clamps on the wheels that would prevent the car from leaving. When these unsuspecting people returned to their vehicle, they would be accosted by this clamping man and forced to pay an excessive amount of money in order to get the clamps removed.

Technically, the clamper is correct that these people were parked 'illegally' but the way he held people up for more and more money led to police complaints and eventually t led to David doing a story on the antiques store and the antics of this clamper in trying to force people to pay more and more money in this obvious scam. After David's story comes out the antiques store soon closes. David remains interested in the clamping man and the store owner, Jillian Bashford, who seems to employ the clamping man but also claims in public not to know the man. Ah, but she most assuredly does know him and indeed, David may know of him as well.

David Farrier and Michael Organ

In the past, a man known as Michael Organ had claimed to have been of royal lineage. He'd claimed to be a lawyer and he had spent time in jail after he had stolen a yacht. So, records of Michael Organ do exist but there is so much more to this story. For the legend of Michael Organ, or is it Prince Michael Organ Shirinsky? What is his name? Is it even Michael Organ? You won't know what to believe, even after the documentary has ended.

"If Michael went to hell, the Devil would be banging on the door of heaven asking God to get him away from Michael." That is by far the most cogent and thoughtful summation anyone could give of the character of Michael Organ based on what you see of the man in this remarkable documentary. Who says this line is a brilliant bit of magic that I won't reveal, you must see it for yourself. This is devastating stuff to watch unfold. Farrier meticulously and relentlessly unfolds a terrifying story that is all too familiar to people who've been in abusive relationships.

Make no mistake about it, on a level of psychosis, Michael Organ is an abuser, a gaslighter. His ability to demand that you conform to his version of reality is haunting and powerful, even thru the distance of a movie screen. Watching him attempt to bully David Farrier into accepting his version of reality, a blatant and provable lie, is deeply disturbing. The way he very obviously attempts to destabilize David is chilling. The fact that David felt he needed to move to a new home as he finished the film tells you so much of what you need to know about this man, Michael Organ.

My favorite description of a person that I have ever read came from an article in a magazine that I have long since lost to time. The description went, that the subject of the article, could change the temperature of any room they were in. That is a visceral, physical way to embody a human being in words. It's something most of us have experienced without perhaps having catalogued the experience. If you've ever had someone in your life with a presence so commanding that they can appear to change the very makeup of the room they are in, you know what I am talking about.

That's Michael Organ in my estimation of him from Mister Organ, the documentary. He appears like someone who, when they walk into a room, tension immediately rises, blood runs cold, ears pin back, and, if you know him, you're forced to brace yourself before he speaks. If you don't know him, but you're in the room he enters, you will know him and you will likely end up not wanting to know him. Again, trigger warning, this is an abuser. The movie is depicting a man who intentionally tries to make others unstable in his presence. If he intends to be around you often, he will do whatever he can to try and make you feel ill at ease as this places him at an advantage.

If you recognize this behavior, then either you have abuse in your past or you are being emotionally abused by someone. That's the chilling, terrifying and powerful heart of Mister Organ. Michael Organ is a personality who can reach through the screen and make you feel ill at ease. David Farrier, as a filmmaker and person, thus becomes both a victim of Michael Organ and our protector. He's warning us about Michael and about people like Michael who you may know. I feel awful for David that he had to go through this, even if he did get an incredible documentary out of it, but was it worth it for the abuse he clearly suffers at the hands of Michael Organ?

That's a question only David Farrier can answer. That he's made a documentary that captures that question so hauntingly, that is what makes Mister Organ one of the best documentaries that I have ever seen. There is a gut punch near the end of this movie that, though it is similar to the twisting, winding road of Tickled, it's so much worse and so much more powerful than that. This is so much rawer and more frightening because it is so relatable. If you don't know someone as horrifying as Michael Organ, count yourself lucky. Or, take a closer look around. The Michael Organ's of the world are so insidious that they could be in the door right now and you won't know it until they've pushed you to a breaking point and robbed you even the slightest sense of security and safety.

My blood runs cold just writing about Michael Organ. I feel like he could reach through my computer and try and destabilize me. And he'd do with a smile while repeatedly, unendingly, relentlessly telling you that that is NOT what he is doing. But he also has the key to your home and you did not give it to him, so how did he get it? He has a story for that but the story is nonsense but he believes it and he demands that you believe the story as well and if you refuse to believe it, he will push and poke and prod and dismiss and make you feel small until you are willing to allow that maybe the story is true, and then he's won. So, yeah, you now may have a slight understanding of just how powerful this documentary truly is.

Find my archive of more than 20 years and nearly 2000 movie reviews at Find my modern review archive on my Vocal Profile, linked here. Follow me on Twitter at PodcastSean. Follow the archive blog on Twitter at SeanattheMovies. Listen to me talk about movies on the I Hate Critics movie Review Podcast. If you have enjoyed what you have read, consider subscribing to my writing here on Vocal. If you would like to support my writing, you can do so by making a monthly pledge or by leaving a one time tip. Thanks!

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About the Creator

Sean Patrick

Hello, my name is Sean Patrick He/Him, and I am a film critic and podcast host for the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast I am a voting member of the Critics Choice Association, the group behind the annual Critics Choice Awards.

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  • Alex H Mittelman 5 months ago

    This seems great! Now I want to see Mr. organ

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