Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.
The unimaginatively named The Conspiracy (Netflix) is a good looking, modestly budgeted attempt at a wide-angle conspiracy thriller shot in a manner to suggest a documentary. I don’t say mockumentary because it doesn’t adhere the conventions of real documentaries as mockumentaries generally do. Many scenes are clearly shot from two camera positions when supposedly only a single cameraman is in the room, etc. I’m not sure how much that will bother most audiences but it stuck out for me as a blemish on an otherwise thoughtful and well executed thriller.
Jim and Aaron are two young filmmakers who pursue a crackpot conspiracy theorist after seeing a provocative viral video. Once the theorist appears to suffer the consequences of getting too close to the truth, whatever it might be, the would-be documentarians find themselves wrapped up in a steaming burrito of intrigue.
Despite its humble nature, The Conspiracy looks pretty slick. It’s well shot despite some contrivances (see above) and despite the ill-advised choice to simulate chest mounted button cams for a huge swath of the overlong, cartoonish climax. That climax is just about the only area where the direction runs off the rails, too.
In general the dialogue feels natural. At times the the two men’s reactions stretch credibility but they always manage to snap back to plausibility. You’ll find yourself watching The Conspiracy thinking, “Oh bullshit. What about…” But before you get to the end of that thought, the movie answers the question. It’s being one step ahead of audience expectations that sets this movie apart from other shaky-cam investigatory thrillers.
Even as The Conspiracy‘s politi-corporate intrigue spirals out of all possible control and you question how this could ever conclude with either man surviving to tell the tale (at least one of them must since he’s narrating the movie), the screenplay delivers a satisfying if perhaps too tidy resolution.
Added bonus: Ambitiousness. Not content to run just The New World Order up the flagpole, this movie makes time to tackle World War I, the Gulf of Tonkin, JFK, 9/11 and pretty much every other wacko theory you’ve ever heard of. If someone’s shouting about it on a street corner, odds are it’s in The Conspiracy.