Jul 4, 2014


There are certain factions of the American populace who are a little...off. If I were being as respectful as possible, I would say that those people who have broken off from society and chosen to live in survivalist camps, hording non-perishable food, water, guns, etc., convinced that society is soon going to collapse and leave people scrounging for survival...well, let's just say I don't have too much in common with them. Though there are times when I have grown so exasperated and disillusioned by my own government, the idea behind which is to provide law, order, aid, support, and "freedom," but which instead is fine with being as useless as a three-ounce paperweight, that I've sworn off my social security number and credit cards and threatened to pull an Into the Wild and go off the grid entirely. Granted, though the chances of me ever following through with this threat are pretty slim, the fact that my sometimes anger and disenfranchisement has lead me to even consider it perhaps shows that I do share something in common with those aforementioned groups.

I bring this up because, at the heart of these kinds of thoughts, sometimes lies any variety of conspiracies. I can look at the government and think the only thing driving them is greed and their blind stunted political ideology. But others can look at the government and think all kinds of shadowy conspiracies are afoot. We are a country that has long been obsessed with conspiracies. From the JFK assassination to Area 51, we as a people like to, or need to, believe that we're never being told the whole story. We don't want to believe that it was simply one jack-ass who managed to kill the most powerful man in the world; we need to believe it was the mafia or Castro or the succeeding Vice President Lyndon Johnson, or all of them, who were responsible. But, sometimes, it really is just one jack-ass.

The Conspiracy, a mockumentary approach to unveil the world's most powerful secret society, presupposes that World War I, the Vietnam War, and 9/11, among other deadly events significant to American history and culture, were caused not because of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, a naval attack in the Gulf of Tonkin, and religious extremists, but were all actually perpetrated by something called the Tarsus Club: an Illuminati-esque group of the most powerful individuals across the globe.

The documentary within The Conspiracy begins with focusing solely on a man named Terrance (an awesome Alan  C. Peterson), whom our documentary filmmakers, Aaron (Aaron Poole) and Jim (James Gilbert), are studying. Terrance has some wild claims about the Tarsus Club, but his public tirades delivered via loudspeaker are mostly ignored. Aaron seems rather taken with Terrance while Jim seems only amused...that is until the filmmakers, one day, have trouble getting in touch with their subject. Calls go unanswered, messages unreturned, front doors unopened. They eventually gain access to Terrance's apartment and find that it has been ransacked and vandalized; his blanket of newspaper clippings linking together five random news stories in order to construct one single conspiracy, has been torn off the wall.

Aaron feels compelled to take the evidence left behind from the ransacking and continue the investigation where Terrance had left off, and gradually, as he unearths more and more about the Tarsus Club, they welcome into their lives more and more layers of danger, beginning with a black SUV that seems to follow them everywhere they go, and ending with an upfront and terrifying confrontation with the very club they are investigating.  

The Conspiracy, an amalgam of JFK, the non-sci-fi aspects of "The X-Files," Conspiracy Theory, Interview with the Assassin, and many more like it, is simply put, fantastic. Written/directed by Christopher MacBride, it is a hyper-realistic, well-written and well-acted piece that presents you with some pretty fantastic claims, but never in a way where they feel fantastic. The cast is sympathetic and entirely convincing (and special mention must be made of character actor Julian Richings, perhaps most famous for his reoccurring role of Death on "Supernatural," whose entire performance is limited to two scenes, a blurred-out face and artificially deepened voice, and who is still, somehow, entirely recognizable).

(Image from "Supernatural.")

Your personal mindset will determine how much belief you'll need to suspend (while some of you may even believe everything you're watching is 100% real). The Conspiracy is a film that both deserves and demands your attention; the more details you soak up and infect your brain, the more rewarding the outcome will be. (For instance, if you consider the ending "ambiguous," then you simply hadn't been paying attention.) This was a film I'd been waiting to see for two years or more once news broke of its existence; all these years later, it was more than worth the wait.

* For the record, it was through absolute random chance that I've chosen to highlight a film about conspiracies related to the American government on this, the anniversary of the country's founding. But, I don't feel bad about it, either.

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