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The Last Broadcast – 5

Director – Stefan Avalos, Lance Weiler

Cast – David Beard, Jim Seward, Stefan Avalos, Lance Weiler, Rein Clabbers, Michele Pulaski, Tom Brunt, Mark Rublee, A.D. Roso

Release Year – 1998

Reviewed by John of the Dead

I learned of The Last Broadcast while enjoying a “found footage” binge and was intrigued when I noticed that this film pre-dated what is often considered the pinnacle of Us “found footage”, The Blair Witch Project. After taking on an opportunity to view this piece I can say that there are obvious reasons behind why this has not been given the time of day or been mentioned along with the likes of Paranormal Activity, but I still found this a unique effort aside from the faults that lead to its mediocre experience. The Last Broadcast is not a good horror film, which stems from a lack of horror, but it is unique in its own right and may appeal to some viewers more than it did to me.

Fueled by a request from an anonymous viewer and seeing an opportunity to finally cash in and make millions off their local access TV show, “Truth or Fiction”, the show’s two producers enlist the help of a crew and head into a forest in search of the terrifying and mythical Jersey Devil. Several days later only one of the adventurers returns, and immediately he becomes the prime suspect in the disappearances of his cohorts and is eventually convicted of their murders. However, years later a local filmmaker examines the extensive footage found at the crime scene and arrives at a much different conclusion than what the jury saw.

This flick immediately had my drive and attention because it involved an element I have before (personally) seen in the horror genre, the Jersey Devil. I admit to being a fan of the found footage idea despite only a small percentage of such flicks in the sub-genre actually giving me a worthwhile watch, and the combination of that filming tactic and the Jersey Devil had me hoping this would be a watch I would remember. The film takes off in a direction I did not see coming, which did not show us real-time footage but was showing us footage “after the fact” – footage being examined by a filmmaker who believes the wrong man was convicted for the deaths of the two filmmakers who went with him into the woods to film the Jersey Devil. This came as a bit of a shock to me but I did enjoy this “different” way of viewing a found footage piece, and it felt very much like a long Investigation Discovery show instead of a movie. Sadly the story could have been much better, and its biggest flaw was its lack of horror. Yes we know that two people were killed during the filming process, but we never see them killed and are left wondering what happened to them for almost the entire film. It was nice that the writers kept us having to guess on whether it was the lone survivor of the trek that killed his two partners or if it was really the Jersey Devil that slayed them, and I must say that the closing revelation was one that I did not see coming and did not enjoy either.

The direction was so-so, and I will say that the filmmakers did a swell job in making this appear realistic and as if it really was reality-based, a marvel for a film with a budget of $900 and filmed entirely in digital format (no film). The performances were believable at first, with the actors not appearing as actors but managing to look and sound the part of the lay folk that they portrayed, but as the film progressed and the actors were put through tension I could see that their performances suffered just as their characters did. Of course, with such little horror I do not have much to say on the execution of it, but the little horror that we do get is actually executed pretty well, but it still was not enough.

Overall, The Last Broadcast is a piece I wanted to enjoy because of its mashing of the Jersey Devil and “found footage” sub-genres, but sadly this was one film that has been forgotten for a reason. It isn’t overly bad, but it is not good either in my opinion – hurt by the lack of horror and an end result that could have delivered much more.

Rating: 5/10

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