REVIEW: The Last Broadcast (1998)
Steven Avkast and Locus Wheeler run a local cable access show titled, Fact or Fiction, which is focused on the paranormal and urban legends. When ratings are getting very low and none of their ideas for episodes seem to be working, someone on the show (via IRC) suggests they do an episode about the Jersey Devil. With nothing to lose and nowhere to go but up, they recruit two fans of the show. Rein Clackin, who can record paranormal sounds and Jim Suerd, a psychic shut-in with emotionally and social problems. They then set off to the Pine Barrens to try and find The Jersey Devil. Only Jim Suerd makes it back alive and becomes the prime suspect. He eventually dies mysteriously while awaiting trial. David Leigh, a documentary filmmaker, decides to examine the tapes, seek interviews with people that knew the victims the best and ultimately find out what really happened that night.
The first question you may have is: This sounds oddly familiar to The Blair Witch Project. Did the creators rip off the idea from The Blair Witch Project? And the answer is no. This movie was made for only $900 and no one knew about it until last 1997. Blair Witch was filmed in early to mid 1997 and made it’s premiere in 1999. If anything, both the films sounds similar to the 1980’s film, Cannibal Holocaust, but the people behind Blair Witch didn’t learn about this movie or The Last Broadcast until after their movie was released. Seeing as how Cannibal Holocaust was not accessible or very well known back in ’96-’97, neither did the makers of The Last Broadcast.
The Last Broadcast is presented as a real documentary the same way The Poughkeepsie Tapes is and the film isn’t all of the filmmakers footage like Blair Witch. It starts with David Leigh, the man making a documentary about the dead Fact of Fiction producers and their counterparts, giving an introduction on why he wants to solve this case and his belief that Jim Suerd couldn’t have killed the producers. The rest of the film contains interviews with people that worked on Fact or Fiction, friends of the victims, etc and footage of the trip and the deadly night itself.
The movie has an unbelievably intense and creepy build-up with you learning the details of the incident just as David Leigh is. It keeps you guessing through the entire thing who could have killed these kids. Was it one of the group members or The Jersey Devil? The major flaw of this movie is the plot holes. My lord, is there a lot of plot holes in this movie. Among others is: How come they don’t explain what The Jersey Devil is? The rest of the questions would spoil the ending. A lot of you will immediately have a big problem with the ending as well. I hated the ending when I first saw it. It just was so sudden and no reason was given on why it was done. The transformation from first person to narrative storytelling of the ending really threw me off. If the ending was done in first person like the rest of the movie, it could have been very chilling and gritty. After having time to think about the ending, I say it’s a good idea, but was badly executed.
The Last Broadcast is unique in the genre of first person horror movies in the way that it plays out like a CSI episode instead of a horror movie. The build-up to the final act is an intense and unnerving adventure, yet the ending doesn’t deliver and you are left with more questions than answers.