The 10 most ludicrous conspiracy theories in cinema

The 10 most ludicrous conspiracy theories in cinema. By Simon Miraudo.

Never let the truth, thoughtfulness, logic, sanity or a basic understanding of the way in which the world works get in the way of a good story. The ‘conspiracy theory’ genre has produced a fair few number of classic films (some based on real-life controversies; others are just terrifyingly plausible), but it’s also responsible for a number of the most outrageous, head-spinning and flat-out ridiculous plot-lines in movie history. For instance, Roland Emmerich’s newie Anonymous suggests William Shakespeare wasn’t actually the author of all those legendary plays and poems bearing his name, but rather, the Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere. To celebrate that film’s outrageously misguided premise, we’re reflecting on the 10 most ludicrous conspiracy theories in cinema. But let’s just keep this list between the two of us. Wait a minute; is that a wire under your shirt?! (Mild spoilers ahoy!)

1The Game

David Fincher’s 1997 flick The Game tells of an investment banker (Michael Douglas) who receives the world’s worst birthday present: an invitation to a mysterious ‘game’ from his offbeat brother (Sean Penn). The ‘game’ turns out to be the most outrageous, expansive and dangerous lead-up to a surprise party ever, hinging on the miniscule chance that Douglas will try – and fail – to kill himself in a highly specific way. Although truly absurd, The Game is a taut thriller that reminds us that if you don’t know what to get the man who has everything, you’re probably better off giving him the new Coldplay album, or a wallet or something.

2The Wicker Man

The Wicker Man is an acclaimed 1973 British horror film… but we’re going to focus on the less scary/more crazy 2006 remake here. Nicolas Cage heads to the island of Summerisle to find his ex-fiancée’s missing daughter. But why is the almost-entirely-female community denying the girl’s existence? And why do all the men have their tongues cut-out? And what is up with their predilection for dressing up like animals? And why do they keep crows in desk drawers? And how did it get burned? And WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY DOING TO NIC CAGE?! Don’t they know it won’t bring back their honey?!

3Eagle Eye

Almost nothing about the Shia LaBeouf vehicle Eagle Eye makes sense. If you’ve not seen it, here’s the basic rundown: a sorta-sentient-ultra-logical supercomputer voiced by Julianne Moore attempts to assassinate the president by using The Beouf as a man-puppet. The supercomputer is eventually destroyed with a crowbar, which is an interesting comment on the dichotomy between technology and tools. Kidding! It’s just a lazy ending!

4Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Everyone knows the famous theory regarding the moon landing, with crackpots the world over claiming it was all staged in a movie studio somewhere. Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon goes one better: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s moonwalk was legit, but it was arranged so they could locate some unconscious Transformers! Here’s one for you conspiracy lovers: if you sync up Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon with this film… you get a noisy, cacophonous, unintelligible mess. So, an improvement then.

5Murder on the Orient Express

Sidney Lumet’s Murder on the Orient Express is perhaps the most beloved Agatha Christie adaptation out there, with Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney) investigating a mysterious death aboard a train. The film’s quality is undeniable, but the likelihood of the killer plot is questionable (to say the least). A for effort!

6Who Framed Roger Rabbit

There are so many film noirs that could have made this list, but we’re going to give the prestigious honour to Robert Zemeckis’ brilliant Who Framed Roger Rabbit. A private eye (Bob Hoskins) is asked to investigate an affair supposedly being conducted by Roger Rabbit’s wife Jessica, and winds up uncovering a scheme to destroy Toontown and its animated inhabitants. The multiple double-crosses and complications are a tribute to noirs of old, so the film gets a pass. The real mystery, though? How did this critically beloved super-smash hit not get a sequel?

7Wag the Dog

To cover up a presidential sex scandal, a Washington spin doctor (Robert De Niro) and a Hollywood producer (Dustin Hoffman) invent a fake war with Albania as distraction for the media.

Alright, maybe this one isn’t super outrageous.

8Tell No One

An hour of intriguing mystery; 30 solid minutes of hard exposition. You know your plot is convoluted and requires too much explanation when it renders the very title of the film obsolete.


Park Chan-wook’s South Korean revenge thriller Oldboy is a masterpiece (we’re calling it!), but the ending and all the answers provided for its many questions require a big ol’ leap of faith from the audience. Why was Oh Dae-Su imprisoned for 15 years, and then released without explanation? No spoilers here, don’t worry. The final reveal is emotionally astute and truly devastating, but still, it requires a hell of a lot of planning on the behalf of the antagonist. The passengers of the Orient Express would by dumbstruck.

10The Truman Show

A reality TV show built around the life of a single man captures and broadcasts his every waking (and sleeping) minute. Actors are hired to play his family and friends, while viewers obsess over the minutiae of his life. Now that’s just ca-razy talk!

Discuss: OK, there’s plenty more out there. What did we miss?

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