From Columbine to Sandy Hook to Parkland, Florida, the scourge of mass school shootings has left many citizens across the U.S. in a state of perpetual mourning, and has ignited a fuse of urgent activism in many others. "False Flag Hoaxers" is about a much different subset of citizens. They are small in number, but ferocious in their ability to sabotage the spotlight from tragedy. For them, these incidents do not represent unspeakable acts of savagery, but elaborate conspiracies planned and executed by the highest levels of government.
Produced by VICE News, the film introduces viewers to several false flaggers who are part of a larger community that convenes primarily through social media platforms. There, they dissect the course of events as reported by law enforcement officials. They study the news footage and search for inconsistencies in eyewitness interviews. They label those who had the good fortune of surviving these incidents as "crisis actors" employed to sell a phony narrative. Some are brazen enough to scold the family members of victims for being complicit in a mass conspiracy. In many of the cases presented in the film, their tactics appear to be shameless and barbaric, and they're perpetrated with stubborn resolve.
Side Thorn is one of the conspiracy theorists profiled in the film. Standing by a makeshift memorial mounted at the footsteps of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, he bullies mourners of the 2017 shooting that claimed the lives of 26 churchgoers. He demands proof that contradicts his notion that the Department of Homeland Security staged the massacre.
The filmmakers attempt to identify what factors embolden these hoaxers to make outlandish claims and further distress the surviving victims of violence. Is it the symptom of mental illness, a hunger for celebrity, or motivated entirely by political ideology? Their ugly rhetoric is informed and inflamed by the likes of Alex Jones from Info Wars and other conspiracy-minded media hosts.
Their narrative is countered by the victims who witnessed these tragedies firsthand, and are left to live with insurmountable grief. "False Flag Hoaxers" is a sobering and infuriating viewing experience.