Question reality with Canadian filmmaker Brad Abrahams and his short film Conspiracy Cruise, which explores the delicate balance of belief and truth. It is a satirical and sometimes surreal film that uses horror in a comedic way, and it is part of the Panic Fest 2020 lineup. Conspiracy Cruise offers dark humor, creature-feature teasing, and a lens to look at ourselves and the strange times we live in,
“Based on a mostly real event off the coast of South Florida”, a group of conspiracy theory enthusiasts boards a ship where a conference on conspiracy theories is being held. Among these people is a has-been musician turned conspiracy theory public speaker, named Gordon Pike (Henry Zebrowski), who leads the attendees in discussions of anything from chemtrails, mind control, tax protesting, the Illuminati, to the existence of Reptilian people. After being heckled by a former fan of his music, Gordon begins to question which side of the truth he is on, making him susceptible to mind-reading and even to species conversion.
The appeal of conspiracy theories is interesting, one might feel safer being on their toes and skeptical of everyone rather than trusting their lying eyes. Right now I am donning my little tinfoil hat because Conspiracy Cruise made me into a believer in a matter of 12 minutes. While I don’t subscribe to the Reptilian people theory, I do believe in this movie’s ability to pit our physical reality against our perceived reality in a darkly comedic and satirical way.
Conspiracy Cruise has a cast reminiscent of an acting troupe, with very diverse characters that act like everyday truthers — in fact, they don’t even seem like actors. The cast is led by Henry Zebrowski as Gordon Pike, who is raw and woefully relatable as a fledgling public speaker questioning what is real and what is fake. No one really knows! And the look of utter terror that Zebrowski displays in the climax at this truth is gripping, emotionally and because of its perfect framing.
As an avid cruiser, I found myself immediately drawn into the movie, which perfectly captures the stale and manufactured fun that surrounds you while on open water; even non-cruisers may find meaning in the film’s all too brief but entertaining exploration of the powerful vs… the rest of us. Conspiracy Cruise definitely has feature-length potential, and may even benefit from more of a docu-fiction style following Gordon Pike. The short is scheduled to show during the Short Film Showcase Block #3 at Panic Fest on January 25th, and you can also watch it here.
7.5 out of 10 ☠️