By Admin | March 7, 2004

Somewhere in the middle of Chad Schultz’s film “Conspiracized,” Jeremy Follow (Danny Beissel) reveals that he understands the implications of something that was baffling him. At the end of the film, Star (Denise Dickens) comes to the same realization. It’s more than likely that the director wanted the viewer to understand as well, but there’s no guarantee that anybody would leave this film thinking, “Aha! I understand now!” Winner of Favorite Feature at the 2003 Wilmington Independent Film Festival and the Jury Prize for Best Soundtrack at the 2004 Park City Film Festival, “Conspiracized” combines narrative and visual elements into something that seems to pit propaganda against anti-propaganda, who is controlling the masses against who is being controlled.

The film opens with an extreme low angle shot of the tops of tress (imagine a person lying on the ground and staring up at the sky). A male’s voice mentions that he and a number of other people have been “conspiracized.” What does it mean to be conspiracized? I’m still trying to figure that one out (I have a couple of working hypotheses, but nothing conclusive). How much you understand of the film rests on which details and how much of them you‘re positive carry certain meanings. “Conspiracized” develops with some portions taking place in the present and others occurring in flashback sequences. Whether or not the segment is in black and white or in color doesn’t mark what is the past and what is the present. The presence or the absence of color is more of a dramatic highlighter. In terms of plot, you learn that Jeremy, formerly Daniel, was hired by a company that specializes in the surveillance and manipulation of human behavior. Jeremy’s assignment is to track down a missing girl, Star. Her disappearance and current whereabouts are linked to a cult led by some guy named DRK (E.P. MacAdams). In searching for Star, Jeremy ends up in the company of this cult and after some time, he finally “understands” something.

What is the content of this light bulb moment? It probably involves the questioning of his and other people’s identities, and the extent to which he’d been fooled into believing something about the world or reality that wasn’t actually true. The film isn’t difficult to follow in the sense that you can’t tell what’s happening from scene to scene. There’s no doubt as to what events are unfolding in front of the camera, but at the end of the eighty-some-odd-minute film, Jeremy and Star experience a revelation without letting you in on it. It’s not that they need to look into the camera and take you step-by-step through the process of their enlightenment, but the impact of their “big think” is somehow lost. With such strong performances by Danny Beissel and Denise Dickens, it’s a just bit frustrating that the viewer should miss part of it.

It makes you feel like you stepped out of the room for a minute, came back to find it looking completely different, and nobody explains to you how it happened. You know it’s not a magic trick, but then what is it? No filmmaker should ever feel obligated to give the audience that last rush of “Aha! I get it,” but a cinematic work shouldn’t make substantial sense solely in the mind of its creator(s) either.

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