Hey there, I’m Jared. I have 496 movies and shows in my Instant Queue and that’s just way too many. I’m not adding anymore movies or shows to it until it’s empty. So, I’m going to start at Number One and work my way down the list and give you guys a choice of the next five in my queue, in order, all the way to the end. But, I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that too. Let’s get to it!
What’s the movie? The Conspiracy (2012)
What’s it rated? Unrated for sending you deep down the rabbit hole, harsh expletives and being Canadian.
Did people make it? Written and Directed by Christopher MacBride. Acted by Aaron Poole, James Gilbert, Alan Peterson and Bruce Clayton.
What’s it like in one sentence? A found-footage mash up of Eyes Wide Shut, Kill List and the Facebook page of some dude you went to high school with.
Why did you watch it? Chewer Drew Dietsch recommended it.
What’s it about in one paragraph? Jim and Aaron are friends and filmmaking partners. They decide to make a documentary about Terrance, a local conspiracy theorist who spends his days yelling on street corners through a bullhorn about 9/11, FEMA, Chemtrails and a dozen other well-known conspiracies. Initially, the film was poking fun at Terrance, but when the man disappears without a trace, Jim and Aaron get pulled deeper into a secret society known as The Tarsus Club.
Play or remove from my queue? I’d play the hell out of it. It’s an effective little thriller even though it doesn’t quite coalesce to make for a fully satisfying end. The build-up is expertly done and the eventual reveal of The Tarsus Club is fantastic, but as the credits started, I wanted ten more minutes to explore a few of the plot threads that felt shuffled off and dropped.
Right away the character of Terrance worked for me. My neighbor has been nailing me with a daily dose of conspiracy theory for a few years now and I can see some of him in Terrance and their shared frustrations at not being listened to. While some theories are fascinating and might have some serious kernels of truth to them, it’s also hard to get anyone to listen to you while screaming into their faces and calling them sheeple. My personal favorite conspiracy theory has to be the Denver Airport Conspiracy and it’s layers of bat shit insanity that, while maybe not leading to the New World Order, definitely prove that some weird fucking people build airports.
Once Terrance disappears and the film focuses on Jim and Aaron following his trail of breadcrumbs it becomes a very tense thriller, especially once they arrive at the wooded estate where the annual meeting of the Tarsus Club is occurring. But right after he disappears, there’s a scrawl saying it would be four months until the men saw Terrance again, but we never see that happen in the film. A huge chunk of the running time had me excited to see what Terrance would be like when he finally showed back up again, but he never did. That seems like either a huge plot-hole or a weird bit of reverse foreshadowing and, either way, it doesn’t work.
Easily the most effective moment of the film comes during the Tarsus Club initiation ceremony. The one bit of Tarsus Club lore that Aaron and Jim could track down was that the club worships Mithras, a Greek god derived from the Persian god Mithra, which then inspired modern Christianity. In their ceremony, the Tarsus Club has a bull running, where they sacrifice a bull to Mithras to initiate the new members. After Aaron goes through the ceremony, he notices that he has a bull mask on instead of the traditional initiate one, and is chased by the Tarsus Club members through the woods. When he looks in the mirror and sees that bull head, the dread I felt for him was palpable and the framing was extremely, gorgeously cinematic.
The film ends with a lot of questions unanswered and new ones raised, which thematically fits the film perfectly, but doesn’t necessarily make for a satisfying conclusion. Did The Tarsus Club really kill Aaron? Did Jim sell out Aaron to protect his family or for something else? The man who got them into the ceremony, Mark Tucker, spun a tale of his fear of the Tarsus Club, yet was at the initiation ceremony himself and looked to be having a jolly old time. Was the entire thing a set-up from the very beginning? I love some unanswered questions at the end of a film about conspiracy theories, hell, that’s par for the course, but I feel like that’s all the film really leaves us with: A pile of questions and plot holes which, again, fits a story about conspiracies, but doesn’t necessarily make it wholly satisfying.
I know I bagged on the film quite a bit, but it’s really a spellbinding faux-documentary thriller. I was on the edge of my seat through most of it and incredibly tense for the final 15 minutes. It’s damned enjoyable and a shit pile of fun, but I was left hoping it would leave me with something solid instead of just smoke and whispers.
How’s the music? The score by Darren Baker is subtle and haunting. Really great work.
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? 9/11: In Plane Sight (Truther doc), Unsealed: Conspiracy Files (might be fun), Myth Hunters (kinda fun), Ayahuasca: Vine of the Soul (nope, don’t care) and Cropsey (one of the best docs of the last 15 years).
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? I had never heard of this film before, yet it holds an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. Good for them.
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 3.8
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 3.0
Can you link to the movie? As you wish.
Any last thoughts? I’m curious to see what you all thought of this one.
What else you watching? Finished Season 4 of Boardwalk Empire. Kinda pissed off and wondering what the point of watching Season 5 would be.
Any spoilerish thoughts about last week’s film, Valhalla Rising? I just wondered if anyone thought my “One-Eye as Death” theory held water.
Next Week? Journey to the West!