The Conspiracy is a dizzying descent through a glass darkly. A world where black SUVs have taken the place of black helicopters, and the New World Order is risen and installed in every aspect of life.
And this world is our own.
Or at least that is what conspiracy nut Terrance (Alan C. Petersen) would have us believe. That we exist in a slave state, watching our rights and freedoms stripped away as a small group of people solidify their power over us.
This faux documentary/found footage film blurs the lines of reality so well (one of the actor’s names is prominently displayed on a chat screen, as well as an email login), that one could easily succumb to the belief and paranoia that this is all really happening.
Two documentary filmmakers Aaron (Aaron Poole) and Jim (James Gilbert) aren’t so much interested in the conspiracy theories Terrance is spouting as much as they are in the man himself, making him the focus of their developing project, catching him preaching his beliefs to the passers-by, yelling at buildings and railing at people he’s sure are following him.
Aaron begins to wonder what’s worse, that Terrance is so delusional that he believes these things, or if they could actually be happening.
When Terrance disappears, Aaron takes up the torch, leafing through newspaper clippings, trying to find the connections that Terrance saw, to piece together a different look at the world, and Jim watches as his friend begins to become as obsessive as their film’s subject. It invades his home, his life, and then he too begins to suspect that Terrance may be right.
They begin to see connections between historical events and the movement of unseen hands behind them, seeing tie-ins between conspiracy theories I knew about like those around assassinations, terrorist attacks, economic manipulation and one I didn’t, an ancient cult that worships a bull god named Mithras, which itself may have influenced and manipulated the religions that arose after it.
The first half of the film Terrance co-opts our reality quite nicely, and lays the groundwork for his beliefs, and whether you believe him or not, the evidence, theory and suppositions are laid out in a convincing pattern to facilitate that most-needed film ingredient, suspension of disbelief.
Even if you doubt parts of it, viewing with a skeptic’s eye, events chronicled through the course of the film, work very hard to persuade you, until Aaron and Jim are approached by a mysterious subject, Mark Tucker (Bruce Clayton), who penned a Time magazine article referring to a group known as the Tarsus Club, a gathering of the world’s elite, meeting, greeting, and making policy, without out knowledge.
And you sit there in the darkened theater, wondering how deep this rabbit hole really goes…?
Then Aaron and Jim decide to go one step further, and infiltrate a Tarsus Club gathering hoping to uncover secrets and names…
MacBride and his cast have crafted a wonderfully tense and engaging film, one that as soon as the credits finished rolling I was ready to sit through it again.
Using historical footage, recognizable locations (the Conspiracy Culture store featured in the film is just down the street from my apartment), well-researched subject matter, and more than a healthy dose of paranoia this film engaged and thrilled, and had me muttering worriedly at the screen as the final act of the film kicked into gear.
I have to say, I tend to worry when I hear about found footage films, because on the big screen I tend to get a little nauseous as the camera wheels back and forth, but it’s not until the final act when the camera switches to POV (to fingernail-chewing excellence during The Ceremony) and it rarely gets shakey. So thank you for that!
Alongside Aaron Poole and James Gilbert, are other recognizable names like Laura de Carteret, Julian Richings, David Tompa, and Douglas Nyback (especially if you follow our blog or show!).
I would be completely remiss if I didn’t mention the music by Darren Baker. There is a music cue, in the final act of the film, that is, well, honestly, blatantly unnerving. If you’ve seen it, you know of what I speak, or if you go see it, you’ll know what I mean as soon as you hear it.
The highest compliment I can pay the rest of the crew is that I didn’t feel you were there. It felt like it was Jim, Aaron, and their tiny crew, nothing bigger than one or two folks. Also deserving of high kudos is the masterful editing by MacBride and Adam Locke-Norton, keeping the pace tight, and cutting in news and archival footage to underline a point, nice work.
This is one for anyone who loves a good thriller, and if you find the subject matter fascinating as I always have, you will be entertained, and watching for masks and SUVs when you leave the theater.
The Conspiracy is currently screening at Carlton Cinemas here in TO, check their site for other listings, and get out there and see this one (then tell me what you think!)!