Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Conspiracy * (2012)

The Conspiracy is a mockumentary about two knuckleheads who infiltrate a secret society. Basically, it's The Blair Witch Project with a tinge of Eyes Wide Shut.  Bad acting and a comically predictable story sink the attempt to merge the found footage and paranoid thriller genres.  Where is Oliver Stone when you need him?

The film opens as two young men are profiling conspiracy theorists for a documentary. They come across a man with all the calling cards: wild hair and beard, apartment walls covered with newspaper headlines, and a street megaphone.  One day he comes up missing and what started out as a joke starts to get freaky.  Men in black driving SUV's start to follow them. Their investigation leads them into the world of elite secret societies.  

Today, there seems to be a "theory of everything" among conspiracy theorists. All believe certain elites have always controlled history - as far back as the ancient Egyptians.  Aliens might be involved as well. American history is replete with hostility towards secret societies, most famously the Anti-Masonic Party in the 1830s and 1840s. Apparently the "documentarians" in the movie never picked up a history book or are even aware of America's proud history of paranoia.

Conspiracy theory has now gone mainstream in pop culture in TV shows like The X-Files and many, many films.  The late night radio show Coast to Coast AM with George Noory includes guests every night who see manipulation behind everything.  Coast to Coast is a fascinating mirror into the subterranean angst floating through America - and also very entertaining.

All their clues lead to the fictional "Tarsus Club", a shadowy group of rich middle-aged white men who meet in the forest every year.  To those hip to conspiracy mythology, the "Tarsus Club" is a stand in for the Bohemian Grove, a group of world leaders and businessmen who do meet every July outside of San Francisco.  Allegedly, they stage mock rituals to an owl.   

In recent years many have tried to crash their party, most notably the Texas Radio host Alex Jones. Jon Ronson, a British journalist who accompanied Jones to the grove, wrote a hilarious account in his book Them: Adventures with Extremists. Ronson concluded the Bohemian Grove extravaganza consisted mostly of aging frat boys taking part in silly drinking rituals.  

Without spoiling too much, the climax features some serious overacting you might see on the WWE.  I guess were supposed to leave the film and ponder what's really going on in the world?  The pretentious "message" at the end falls completely flat.

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