When the New Zealand journalist David Farrier began investigating a peculiar series of events happening in a car park outside an antiques store in a town he likens to the antipodean equivalent of Beverly Hills, he most likely had no idea he’d wind up being haunted for life. Farrier directed and co-stars in an account of those events that can rightly be called a documentary horror film. If its title, “Mister Organ,” initially strikes you as humorous, you won’t be laughing long.
In 2016, Farrier happens on a local interest story in Ponsonby, a suburb of Auckland. On evenings outside the emporium, Bashford Antiques, a bearded fellow with a van is clamping cars parked without permission, and charging extortionate rates to free up the vehicles. As local legislatures move to change the laws allowing this practice, Farrier recognizes the bearded man, Michael Organ (or, as he sometimes signs his name, Michael Organe), as a self-proclaimed royal who, years before, had served time for a yacht-snatching scheme.
Further investigations, including unusual and sometimes impromptu interviews with Organ, reveal him as a man of many moods — one who soon tells Farrier that “somebody” has given him, Organ, the key to Farrier’s house. Further creepiness ensues.
Organ is a terrifying type: the sociopathic con artist who doesn’t so much work on discrete schemes as lead an entire sham existence, with no specific aim besides gaslighting and controlling others. A free-floating malefactor who can expound on any topic for hours, a master of sophistry. In one interview, Organ tells Farrier, with great confidence, “There’s a difference between you not being able to prove something as true and me being able to prove that it’s false.”
Not one psychiatrist or potential diagnostician is interviewed. Explaining Organ might blunt the impact of experiencing the man through Farrier’s eyes — the movie’s unsettling journey ends at an abandoned mental institution.
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 36 minutes. In theaters.