Brian Neil Hoff
Brian Neil Hoff, Carolina Liectenstein
We all love a good conspiracy yarn. So many movies and television shows rely totally on our need to gobble this stuff up, that it really makes you wonder what any aliens monitoring our broadcasts must really think about us? Shows like "The X-Files" continue to be favorites and we're always looking for the next best thing. Now, let's talk about "The Blair Witch Project" and how it created an entire genre of film. That "reality" television, documentary style that was, and still is, scary more for its ability to cause nausea in its viewers than anything else. At the time, "The Blair Witch Project" was revolutionary because it tried a new formula - found footage. Things didn't need to be smooth and look good - because that wouldn't make sense. Creators Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez relied on the film looking so bad, because a lot of the world thought it was actually found footage. They created an entire online presence to prove it was all real... and it was brilliant. Their movie isn't really remembered as being terrifying because it was scary or looked so good, it's remembered as being scary because people thought it was real.
Nowadays, except for a very select few, found footage movies are laughed about. They're considered hallmarks of extremely low budget film and generally, something to watch over a few shots of booze and some friends. Much like the "Sharknado" movies. It's very hard to love a found footage film anymore because quite frankly, we know the gimmick. We know it's not real. Even reality television shows and special news reports featuring on-location reporters use tripods, gimbals, and systems to make even the "reality" of reality television and movies look nicer, smoother, and slick. The "Blair Witch" fad has long ended and with the cost of gear nowadays, it's a wonder people are still making these. Yet they are still making them, plenty of them.
In case you're wondering, yes, all this does relate to "The Dragonfly Conspiracy" and as a matter of fact? Everything I've written above directly explains this film - save the story. In this micro/zero budget production, our heroes Blake and Christine are on the run from a cult they've recently escaped. This cult has infiltrated everyone and everything it seems, and is not a backwater gaggle of people. Complete with tracking chips and poison pods implanted in their members' bodies, brainwashing, and even cloning, are all part of this dastardly organization. Want to leave? We'll find you, get you, or get the clone we've created of you to commit crimes so the police think you did it. And even if they didn't think you did it, the police are probably members as well so either way - you're screwed. Better just kill yourself now right?
The film follows these two ex-members as they blog about their escape, record their journey with a camera, and visit people gathering information and a place to crash. All while being chased by two men in black from the organization. The premise is that the footage the two recorded has been found, but they have not. In a nutshell? Pretty much any crazy conspiracy related related scenario is covered here and even looking at the poster art, the viewer is going to be in for a wild ride. Well reader, the "wild" is correct - and although not a complete washout, this film has more than it's share of issues.
Let me cut right to it, creating a film is hard. It's time consuming, irritating, and generally not as fun as most people think it is. So, even managing to complete a movie is a huge achievement. With that said, even no-budget movies can look good. Even micro-budget ventures can have a great story. The independent status basically gives its creators free rein to tell a story how they want, but it all comes down to writing. A lot can be forgiven but sometimes, a little care goes a long way. "The Dragonfly Conspiracy" is very shaky, out of focus, out of frame, and generally everything that can make some people quite sick. The guise is that it's meant to be this way, and "The Dragonfly Conspiracy" it's not only a found footage film, but also a no budget project. I knew going in that this production probably wouldn't be that pretty - simply because of the synopsis of the film itself. The creators themselves apologize for it. Maybe not in so many words, but stating right off the bat that a movie is zero budget, almost feels like an apology. However, this is an indie review site, so we get a lot of found footage productions.
The real problem is the actual story. It simply isn't believable - at all. Holes in the plot are massive. We have two people who literally just escaped a cult, travelling from place to place and being sheltered by people who feel sympathy for them, or other ex-cult members who have escaped. Yet very few of them actually care about hiding their faces? "Hey, I escaped as well, but come on in with your camera - so that the evil organization can see us all!" However, if you can get past that you then have to ask yourself, if these people sheltering Blake and Christine really did escape themselves, why would they trust two people who "say" they just escaped? Why would they shelter them? Wouldn't they be suspicious of the two? Our heroes get a flash drive with contacts at around the halfway point, but again, why would the man giving it trust them? Surely a cult as big as this one would send people out looking for them, spies as it were... it just makes no sense and this film is full of plot holes like this.
Then, we have some segments of really unbelievable acting. Imagine this dialog in the most matter of fact, sterile way imaginable, "Oh no. They found us with their guns. The family is here to get us. We have to run." Almost monotone. I could go on and on, but I'm sure my point has been made. Visual aspects aside, "The Dragonfly Conspiracy" simply feels rushed and improvised. There's no escaping that - and yet the funny thing is that although it feels rushed, it also feels really long. Clocking in at just over an hour, it shouldn't feel long at all - but I attribute the feeling of length to what I've listed above.
With everything said, this really isn't a bad movie. There is some entertainment to be had here and being equally honest, a conspiracy flick is always somewhat fun. I simply wish it didn't feel so hap-hazard - and wasn't quite as home movie looking as it was. "The Dragonfly Conspiracy" is watchable, no question. I have seen studio movies that make this film look simply amazing. If you are a complete hater of found-footage flicks, there is absolutely nothing here for you - unless you simply love supporting indie films. If you're like me and somewhere in the middle, this movie is watchable - and if you absolutely love found footage productions, add another half star. Perhaps not perfect, but it still has its moments and can be completely enjoyable. Two stars.