Chances are, the mere term “conspiracy theory” just elicited a strong reaction in you. Did your eyeballs just roll out of your head and under the couch? Or did you just have a wave of sudden bloodlust toward me for calling them “theories”? Whatever your take on conspiracies, sometimes it’s fun to go down a rabbit hole. There’s plenty of them available on Netflix, and a few that are actually worth your time.
If you really want to get into this, ready your mind hole (sheeple!) with The Conspiracy “Theory” Conspiracy, a kind of meta documentary about a media, ahem, conspiracy to give “conspiracy theory” a bad rap. Be warned, it’s at least twice as long as it needs to be. For the less hardcore, there’s a Netflix doc for all tastes.
Zeitgeist: The Movie
For the uncommitted, Zeitgeist: The Movie is like a sampler plate, offering a trifecta of conspiracy theories on Christianity, 9/11, and the global economy. It attracted quite a lot of a attention at its 2007 release; it’s cred comes from being vigorously panned by the media and championed by the internet. This movie is attractive to the amateur enthusiast looking to broaden their conspiracy horizons, or the idly curious. There are two sequels as well, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Unsealed: Conspiracy Files
For range, this one is even better than Zeitgeist; it’s actually a 22-episode series, so it’s an ultimate sampler. Short, and highly binge-able, Unsealed tackles a bunch of different conspiracy theories, mostly involving the government and aliens/space (or both!). Since the episodes are only 18 minutes, they don’t go that in depth, but for the skeptic looking to be amused, it’s kind of perfect. And if any of these theories strike your fancy, chances are you can find a full length documentary somewhere in the bottomless internet.
One of the most unique and specific conspiracy theory documentaries to be found. Director Rodney Ascher is like that one guy in in your lit or film class that always seems to be reaching a little too hard, only now he’s on the soapbox of his own Stanley Kubrick documentary. Room 237 is a collection of very specific film theories and analyses on Kubrick films, primarily The Shining, which range from legitimately interesting to a bit kooky. It’s an amateurish but devoted production, made up of deep analysis with a touch of conspiracy theory (there’s an almost obligatory fake moon landing theory thrown in there). This is the perfect documentary for film buffs with an affinity for Kubrick and bit of patience.
This documentary, executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, has actually garnered some critical praise, which kind of lessens its credibility as a true conspiracy theory. It is indeed less fringe than average: Cowspiracy tackles what it calls “the conspiracy of silence” around the environmental impact of the livestock industry, a reality that isn’t necessarily widely denied, but is widely downplayed. But there’s something about documentaries that play up the drama and scale of their issue de jour that make them seem a little conspiracy theory-esque. There’s plenty of others in the same vein, if that’s more your speed.
UFOs: The Secret History
This is not strictly a conspiracy theory documentary, but it’s a comprehensive and sneakily non-committal history of UFOs that could confirm your biases either way. It also goes deeper into history than Roswell and flying saucer photos. UFOs: The Secret History is well-written and entertaining enough to appeal both the Mulders and the Scullys of the world.
Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?
It would be remiss to exclude one of the most popular and notorious conspiracy theories, the faked lunar landing. This documentary gives will tell you everything you need to know about the theory, in case you somehow missed its existence.
The Secret has garnered a ton of media attention, and something of a cult-following. If you forget, it’s that supposed self-help theory of using positive thinking to produce material gain. It’s never actually called a conspiracy theory, but it’s way more interesting if you regard it as one.
The Secret Rules of Living: Algorithms
Honorable mention goes to this documentary, which to be clear, is not a conspiracy theory. It’s actually an engaging explanation of algorithms and the many surprising roles they play in modern life. I mention it here because it is guaranteed to push a conspiracy theory-minded imagination into overdrive.