|starring||Aaron Poole, James Gilbert, Ian Anderson|
Those who are as deep down the rabbit hole as myself know just how many conspiracy theories make their way into films. And while based on some incredibly dark theories, many find their way integrated as the subplot to major mainstream motion pictures (see Prometheus, Transformers 3, Captain America). Most are twisted into complete fantasy, so it’s rare to see something of an actual theory directly translated/interpreted into a film (the last I can recall is Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut). The Conspiracy, the incredibly low profile found footage thriller from writer director Christopher MacBride, takes some wild speculation and (smartly) focuses it on one particular event that rocked the real conspiracy world some years ago.
There are just too many “big” conspiracy ideas floating around the web to focus on, so MacBride directs all of his attention to Alex Jones’ infamously unconfirmed Bohemian Grove footage, where he supposedly is the only person in the world to have infiltrated the untouchable yearly event that takes place in Monte Rio, California. MaxBride echoes Jones’ tale by using a documentary crew as the device to move the story, and thus integrate the overall arcing conspiracy. The film follows two doc filmmakers who decide their subject will be a man who’s made a name for himself by yelling protests in the streets if Toronto. This man explains that we’re all sheep (think real life Matrix), and slaves to a government attempting to become one powerful entity. The tales that are spun come directly out of conspiracy forums and are essential in integrating a level of believability to this intriguing mockumentary. When the old man goes missing, the filmmakers piece together his office full of newspaper clippings – which leads them down the rabbit hole of “truth.”
The film builds tremendous amounts of suspense as they go from a safe place of laughing at a “wacko” to the sudden haunting realization that all of this “may be true.” And, if so, are they in danger? The tension builds to an incredible third act that can best be described as Eyes Wide Shut with more scares, but less boobage.
Ultimately, the film’s epilogue lacks punch as it appears that MacBride is hoping to open viewers’ eyes to the “truth” as opposed to making something entertaining to watch. I’m assuming he’s attempting to enlighten people to real conspiracies but he should have made a real documentary instead of leaving the ending so flaccid.
Still, what makes The Conspiracy so compelling is that it’s based on real conspiracy theories. Everything that’s suggested in the film is something I’ve known or read about, which makes the mockumentary that much more believable and even more thrilling. The suspense hits incredible highs (but also some lows), all aided by fantastic performances by Aaron Poole, James Gilbert and Ian Anderson. Even the found footage film work was intriguing, although there was no reason to clip the edges of their button cameras.
It’s unfortunate that the epilogue is so weak considering how fun, engaging and thought provoking the entire film is. It’s highly recommended that you read up on a lot of the presented theories and take a trip down the rabbit hole with the filmmakers as they attempt to craft a more believable story. It’s rare that such a small movie can feel so “big” and deliver such thrilling and exciting results. Whether you believe in this stuff or not is an entirely different conversation…