The Conspiracy

Film4 Frightfest 2013

 

“I love humans”, said Paul McGann’s Doctor, “always seeing patterns in things that aren’t there.” (apophenia, for linguaphiles) But what about when they are?

Aaron and Jim (Aaron Poole and James Gilbert – guess which is which?) are documentarians following a conspiracy theorist called Terrance, who promptly disappears. Piqued by the timing, Aaron follows up on Terrance’s theories in hope of finding him, while Jim is more sceptical. As more threads lead towards an organisation called the Tarsus Club, could a real conspiracy be leading the filmmakers into danger, or is Tarsus really – ahem – just bull?

The subject matter instantly means The Conspiracy is going to be a divisive film, and the very evenhandedness it shows can be spun into bias for either camp if starting with a strong viewpoint one way or the other. Filmically, it holds the documentary style well throughout, and while there is a touch of overly shaky camerawork towards the end, it is in better context than many where you would be rolling your eyes why the characters insist on keeping the camera on! Pacing is good and there’s a confident approach by writer/director Christopher MacBride for his first feature, with echoes of the 70s heyday of paranoia thrillers like The Parallax View.

Challenging the nature of viewer acceptance of what’s on screen, there’s lots of detail that will reward a rewatch, but ultimately your enjoyment of the film is likely going to depend on your level of interest and belief in the types of New World Order conspiracies it deals with. ***1/2

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