‘Christspiracy’ Review: Conspiracy not Included

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Christspiracy (2024) © A.U.M. Films and Media

After the success of Cowspiracy (2014) and Seaspiracy (2021), filmmakers Kip Andersen and Kameron Waters return to the documentary genre with Christspiracy, looking to unearth the moral and ethical truths surrounding religious attitudes towards farming, slaughtering, and consuming animals.

★★★☆☆

Christspiracy follows the filmmakers as they consider how different institutions consider religion’s duty towards caring for animals, and whether there is a spiritual way to kill. From the outset, the film uncovers a disjunction between scripture and contemporary teachings, finding that religious practitioners and scholars alike struggle to decide whether eating meat can be seen as in line with certain faiths. The debate is polarising and daunting, providing ample content for the filmmakers to interrogate the religious side of meat eating.

Christspiracy favours a talking head style of interviewing, providing a layer of credibility to its arguments due to the direct and first person nature of the film’s sources. We see a varied range of opinions from experts in the field of religion and ethics, facilitating a clear and balanced consideration of contemporary and historical beliefs concerning faith and attitudes towards animals. This structure feels a little aesthetically overdone throughout the film, however its simplicity forces viewers to pay close attention to each subject’s viewpoints with little distraction. 

The film features a range of powerful drone shots that are used surprisingly tastefully. They allow the filmmakers not only to film previously inaccessible areas, such as going undercover in supposedly humane abattoirs and at highly restricted religious gatherings, but to also prove the extent of slaughter through wide panning views of mass animal death. One scene frames cattle pens to mimic a crucifix; perhaps a little on the nose, but a powerful scene that’s deeply uncomfortable in the exact right way.

One contributor who stands out from the pack of experts and academics is Louis Cole, known in online spaces as ‘FunForLouis’ or ‘FoodForLouis’. A key player in YouTube’s Brit-Crew heyday, Louis became a controversial figure overnight in 2012 for eating a goldfish in a now deleted YouTube video. Hounded by tabloids and threatened with prison time, Cole’s cruel yet relatively swift actions changed his life. As someone who has seen swift moral justice in response to his carelessness, Cole’s stance feels unique within the documentary.. His case is a harsh juxtaposition to the juggernaut institutions running rampant through Christspiracy, hosting mass slaughter with little care for the moral weight that comes alongside carnivorous overconsumption.

Christspiracy (2024) © A.U.M. Films and Media

A key issue throughout Christspiracy is the very nature of conspiracy. The film is tackling an incredibly apparent and globally impactful issue, but feels cheapened by the filmmakers’ insistence of forcing conspiracy into its narrative. The film struggles to linger long enough on the nature of spirituality and ethics, in favour of fabricating a sense of mystery and governmental cover ups that ultimately detract from the primary subject itself. Christspiracy would be far more effective as a stand-alone documentary, rather than forcing it into a preexisting series.

Christspiracy considers a range of difficult-to-digest viewpoints, with its most garish perhaps being that of Holocaust survivor Alex Hershaft, who compares the meat industry and factory farming to the Holocaust itself. Although the personal experiences of Hershaft evidently fuel his opinions, the film jumps on this idea as one of its own, and feels fairly sparse in its understanding of Hershaft’s lived experience. Its fleeting reiteration of these viewpoints and hasty decision to hop on this polarising point as if it were gospel feels uncomfortable and crass.

Christspiracy (2024) © A.U.M. Films and Media

Christspiracy’s most blatant flaw is possibly the film’s excessive insistence for diary entry-like narration and empty ponderings from its filmmakers. I think it was the word ‘Meat-trix’, in reference to 1999’s The Matrix, that solidified my great distaste for these structural check-ins, completely taking me out of the severe nature of animal cruelty and slaughter. Many of Kip Anderson’s self-serving interludes feel forced and disjointed, as if he wanted to be a key face in the film ‘just because’. Unfortunately, his looming presence is to the detriment of the film, feeling almost satirical at times with his preachy and surface-level ponderings on some of life and religion’s biggest questions.

The Verdict

It is such a shame that Christspiracy is trapped in a framework of conspiracy and secrecy. The feature’s topic is heavy, and feels cheapened by the filmmakers insistence to thrust themselves and their individual narratives at the audience with every turn. The film does, however, include some incredibly moving and upsetting scenes that are important even for the most die-hard carnivore to consider. Although a little annoying at times, Christspiracy’s overall aim to ask audiences to question the ethics of meat-eating feels met, and the film certainly leaves viewers with a lot to consider when it comes to their individual ethics and values. 

Christspiracy is in select cinemas 20 March 2024

Words by Jess Parker


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