I don't want to believe
Fantastic Fest: The Conspiracy digs in to the paranoid culture of conspiracytheory
Put on your tin foil hat, turn off your cell phone and read this in a private-browsing mode. Theycould be watching.
But, who are “They?” Descendants of an ancient bloodline? The global elite? Reptilian humanoids? No one can be certain, but they are out there, and they are conspiring to shape the course of the world. At least, that’s what conspiracy theorists throughout the world believe. To most casual observers, a lot of the conjecture is full of crackpot speculation and unhealthy confirmation bias.
But what if there’s something more to it than that? What if some of the dots actually do connect, and through the haze, connections can be made? What if some of these theories are less conspiracy, and instead more closely resemble collusion with legitimate grounds for suspicion?
That is precisely what motivated director Christopher MacBride to take his first stab at a feature length film, The Conspiracy.
“I was never a conspiracy theory guy. I had a very good friend who thought this stuff was so compelling, and for whatever reason I just started digesting this stuff,” MacBride says.
That’s a dangerous path to tread down. Once you take the red pill, there’s no turning back; you can’t climb back up the rabbit hole. “That’s what happens when you immerse yourself in that world…You can’t deny some of the compelling points some of the smarter conspiracy theorists make. That’s the way I’ve always looked at it — they’re just questions. It doesn’t hurt to ask a question.”
The Conspiracy, a mockumentary following two filmmakers that get sucked into the world of conspiracy, delivers all of the same paranoia and anxiety that comes with investigating the actions and motivations of global power.
Part of the movie's thrill is whether or not it can hurt to ask questions — whether or not too much investigation can be detrimental.
“There were a couple of things that were sort of scary,” MacBride says of peculiarities that occurred during production. “When it was at the script stage, we sent it to a prominent person in the film industry and they responded back, ‘I cannot advise a young filmmaker like yourself strongly enough, to not make a film like this.’”
“During editing," MacBride continues, "The financers came in quickly and said, ‘You can’t say that person’s name, or that name,’ just at the last second. That was pretty suspicious.”
Perhaps paranoia isn’t warranted, but do those happenings affect someone who held no serious belief in conspiracies beforehand? “When I was immersed in the research and reading anything I could get my hands on, I sort of went crazy.”
MacBride explains how his thorough research for the film changed his perception of world events: “I started to see it everywhere.”
“Like, the Bohemian Grove. It’s this sort-of secret society and they actually do get in masks and they light this effigy on fire. There’s no doubt that very powerful people were members of that group.”
The ritual retreat MacBride is referring to — which was famously documented by our own resident conspiracy nut, Alex Jones — does strike a chord of discomfort. A group of powerful leaders meeting in the woods to pal around and perform strange, esoteric rituals just isn’t normal. Even if nothing sinister occurs, it’s just bizarre.
Ceding to the possibility that the Bohemian Grove is really just a meeting of powerful individuals discussing global matters, he goes on to say, “Personally, I don’t see the evidence that they’re necessarily doing anything other than the rich wanting to be in a more and more exclusive club.”
However, as MacBride put it, “If a hundred actors or athletes all gathered in the woods and dressed up in pagan masks and performed this crazy ritual, every reporter in the world would be covering it. But when people who actually run the world do it, there is nothing in the media.”
Conspiracy theories are a lot like 24-hour news media: They’re undoubtedly intriguing, and make for interesting discussion, but can they even be trusted?
These are the concerns that MacBride's The Conspiracy addresses. Using a riveting narrative, his film brings the culture of extreme skepticism to audiences everywhere. Whether or not his film will move viewers to question their very reality is uncertain. At least, they will have a good time going along for the ride.
Assuming the man allows the film a wide release, that is.
A trailer for The Conspiracy can be viewed above.