Some of the cleverest horror films in recent memory managed to blur the lines between fiction and reality; 1999's The Blair Witch Project is probably the most obvious example, but more recent indies like Undocumented (2010) and The Last Exorcism (2010) do a rather impressive job of grounding their horror stories in stark, sometimes brutal, reality, and they also find ways to push the "found footage" angle into new (or at least novel) directions. Add the Canadian faux-documentary known as The Conspiracy onto the list of low-key, low-budget, low-bullshit indie chillers, because this one works resoundingly well.
One hates to say "faux-documentary" right at the beginning, but since you're reading a film review at FEARnet.com, it's safe to assume you already know that The Conspiracy is a horror film. Presented, rather cleverly, as a documentary about two guys who choose to delve into various conspiracy theories that are best left uncovered, the film gradually turns into a paranoia thriller and then a scrappy little horror flick over the course of 83 quietly compelling minutes. At first, our aspiring filmmakers (Aaron and Jim) are fascinated by one specific conspiracy theory "loony" called Terrance, but once their interview subject goes missing without a trace, they dig even deeper, sneak into a secret meeting, and ... let's just say they live to regret it.
Fans of this sort of horror tale will doubtlessly guess where The Conspiracy is going before it gets there, but in the case of this flick, the journey is still quite fascinating. The early section offers a juicy block of conspiracy theory stuff, and the fake-doco style is entirely convincing, but The Conspiracy gets considerably more interesting once Terrance goes missing and Jim and Aaron start getting more pro-active towards the mysterious cabal called The Tarses Group.
First-time writer/director Christopher MacBride seems well aware that while his concept is clever and his third act is truly creepy, he still has to fill about an hour with interesting ideas and at least two characters who don't behave like idiots, and (again) that's where the documentary-style narrative adds an extra layer of relative realism. A savvy horror fan will have no problem "playing along" with the film's conceit, and the director (to his credit) displays some admirable restraint as the scary stuff finally rears its ugly head. Capably flanked by two strong leads (Aaron Poole and James Gilbert), bolstered by a firm commitment its integral visual "gimmick," and some laden with rather unsettling ideas about the truth behind the "crazy" lies, The Conspiracy is a nifty little diversion, and a fine respite from the recent deluge of truly terrible found-footage indie flicks.