The “found footage” craze in horror films is just about sputtering out, and hopefully all of the footage out there has been found or is about to be found, and we won’t be subjected to films like Conspiracy Theory for much longer. I really can’t imagine it getting much worse after this though. I’ll be blunt: this movie was bad. Real bad. Like…amongst-the-worst-films-I’ve-ever-watched bad. I’ve seen some bad movies. I’ve seen some bad found footage movies. And, I’ve even seen some bad found footage movies about mischievous and sinister aliens. None of them come close to the cinematic train wreck that is Conspiracy Theory.
I’m going to be throwing around a lot of what seems like hyperbole, and a lot of it may come off as satire in its intensity, but I implore you to understand that this movie is that bad – and nothing short of borderline hyperbole is really capable of getting across how terrible it is. I don’t believe that any creator owes the consumer anything, but let me say I watched this movie for free, and I feel that something very valuable was taken away from me.
The plot revolves around aspiring conspiracy theorist Bjorn Eriksson (played to the hilt by writer Ben Kobold in what I hope is both his acting debut and his acting finale) who, along with his cohost Britney Big Time (no, seriously), sets out to uncover the secrets of a possible alien base under Lake Mead. We’re treated to a night out in Las Vegas where our band of misfits gets thrown out of a casino, a night out on a houseboat where they’re visited by both park rangers and some super boring-looking aliens, and a few other locations not really worth bringing up. In classic crap filmmaking style, we’re finally treated to a scene in which the characters Get Too Close To The Truth And Are Warned By The Powers That Be To Stay Away…Or Else!
This movie is a mess through and through, and not in the charming, endearing way some movies somehow happen to be. There’s lots of really, really pointless dialogue that I’m sure the filmmakers thought either added some kind of depth to the characters (or was witty and clever, but just came off as something Kevin Smith might think was passable after a three-day bender) and plenty of the typical dumb fucking nonsense one expects in most found footage films. You know what I mean: violations of the “why am I watching this?” rule, shots far too well framed for amateur cinematographers, and needlessly filming things that no sane human would think to film, strategic electronic interference at the perfect time (more on that in a bit). The film wraps up with an attempt to come across as satirical and self-effacing, but it just seems pathetic and almost hypocritical. Oh, and did I mention there’s a rap about fisting and anal sex? Well, there is a rap about fisting and anal sex, and not just a quick one off scene: it’s nearly four and a half minutes long For four minutes and twenty one seconds the viewer is subjected to characters discussing a rap about about anal fisting. Easily the most trying scene I have ever sat through, and I’ve sat through a lot of bad movies.
The scenes involving actual alien contact, which in a film about alien encounters really should have been the money shots, are almost laughably bad: full of bullshit jump scares that, given the fact this is supposed to be documentary style footage, make no sense whatsoever (seriously, why would an alien pop up into frame on a surveillance camera to glare directly at the viewer? Because the filmmakers are hacks who don’t understand the limitations of the found footage technique, that’s why!). Also, the special effects in this movie are a mountain of hot garbage. If you’re fast enough with the pause button, try and freeze it when you see the aliens; you’ll understand what I’m talking about. They’re truly god-awful. But good luck doing that because like most bottom tier found footage films the filmmakers are sure to have lots of strategic static and interference when the aliens are on screen because who really wants to see the piss poor job they’re doing anyway? That screenshot just about this paragraph is an alien peering into a camera, by the way.
This movie is an excellent example of a movie that has no right to exist. It doesn’t tell a compelling story, it has zero likeable or relatable characters, and it doesn’t even really seem to want to exist. The apathy in the performance and production of this film is dripping from every scene. Even the poster for the movie is trash. See it at the top of the article? Some guy standing before a collage of random imagery, like Mt. Rushmore and the pyramids? NEITHER OF THOSE THINGS ARE IN THE MOVIE. And the review about this movie being Ancient Aliens meets National Treasure? Who said that? Where’d the review come from? Is it even an actual review? We don’t know because there’s no source cited! When Columbia was promoting a heap of garbage movies they made back in 2000 they at least had the decency and common sense to cite their fake reviews with a fictional critics name. This movie doesn’t even bother with lying to us.
Don’t get me wrong…it’s entirely possible to make good found footage movies. I freely admit to being scared by some of them. It’s just that these films oftentimes are just excuses for lazy and uninspired filmmakers to churn out a movie quickly without doing much work, and very rarely do filmmakers have the skill and technical aptitude to make a truly good found footage film. And rest assured Conspiracy Theory is both very lazy and very uninspired. It is the worst kind of movie in that it tries to maintain both a sense of seriousness and gravity while attempting to wink and nod at the audience. You can’t have it both ways. It feels as if the filmmakers were aware of how bad the movie was and how ridiculous and beat-to-death the premise was and were trying to be in on the joke, all while maintaining an air of seriousness. It just doesn’t work. Like I said earlier, the movie maintains a very serious tone up until the very end when we’re treated to a mock commercial of an Ancient Aliens style TV show about the events the movie claims to have portrayed, complete with a host who resembles whatshisname from Ancient Aliens. You know the guy. My point is that this movie isn’t a parody or satire, and yet in its closing moments tries to claim it was a parody. And the credits are done in a ’70s Blaxploitation style complete with an actual recorded version of the previously mentioned rap about anal sex and fisting. I just wrote that phrase for the third time, and I hate this movie for it.
But…like most things in life, it’s not without its pluses. For example, some of the characters in this movie have the same last name as notable people in the UFO community (Von Daniken, Moulton) but your average viewer probably won’t get the references. I myself probably shouldn’t have gotten the references. And there is something to be said about actually even getting a movie made, so I guess that’s another plus. Also, another plus is that this movie has an end and doesn’t go on forever. But that’s balanced out by the fact that it exists in the first place.