While watching THE CONSPIRACY, it occurred to me that people who believe in wild theories about, for example, how our government was complicit in 9/11, or the assassination of John Kennedy, take comfort in their obsessions. It's almost like they have a secret, that no one else knows, and there's an incredible sense of power that it brings. The first half of the movie definitely feels like the audience is being shown some back-alley sordid stuff, and for a few moments, we share in the thrill of it all.
It's unfortunate that the filmmakers couldn't be consistent with that vibe, because in the end THE CONSPIRACY becomes yet another routine found footage movie, with lousy cinematography and seizure-inducing shaky-cam. The movie had a nice build and a real sense of paranoia in the first half, but as we dive into the story the tone and feel of the movie can't stay consistent.
Jim (James Gilbert) and Aaron (Aaron Poole) are documentary filmmakers who decide to make a feature based on the ramblings of "Terrance R" (Alan Peterson), an older man who tends to bring his own podium and shout his theories with a bullhorn to anyone willing to listen. Aaron and Jim can't take "TRex", as he's called online, seriously, until one day Terrance disappears.
After a few weeks of trying to find Terrance, Aaron dives into his clippings and notes and discovers that Terrance may have been actually on to something after all. An article leads them to discover The Tarsus Group, a meeting of intelligentsia, corporate executives, and politicians who seemingly help dictate global policy. As the two dive deeper, it becomes apparent to both of them that they may be over their heads, with guys on bikes and mysterious cars following them everywhere.. It's not paranoia, after all, if they are truly after you.
It's when the third act clicks in, and the duo attempt to infiltrate the organization, that the movie falls apart - the film passes itself off as a documentary and is competently shot, and then it goes into found footage territory and every sad cliche of that mode of filmmaking rears its ugly head. There's a bit of a twist at the end, but it's not clever enough to justify the piss-poor filmmaking of the previous twenty minutes.
But when the movie is dwelling on all the crazy theories that have popped up in recent years, it's almost convincing enough to make believers out of the audience, and that was the strongest filmmaking in THE CONSIPRACY. Like I said before, diving into these mysterious worlds and viewpoints takes on the power of a shared secret, and there's a real sense of paranoia about the movie as Aaron and Jim begin to become overwhelmed by their shared experience. Fans of documentaries from Alex Jones and even Michael Moore can appreciate the thrills of the first half of THE CONSPIRACY, but it's all done in service of entertainment and thrills. But when the movie actually has to deliver on the answers to the questions it raises, it falls sadly short.