The Last Broadcast (1998)

DVD Cover (Heretic Films)
Genres / Traits: Creature Film, Horror, Cinéma Vérité, Urban Legends
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Stefan Avalos Stefan Avalos
Lance Weiler Lance Weiler
David Beard David Beard
Jim Seward Jim Seward
Stefan Avalos Stefan Avalos
Lance Weiler Lance Weiler
Rein Clabbers Rein Clabbers

5.0 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: January 29, 2007
Movies that are based in reality or are purported to be "true" stories usually tend to be more engaging for yours truly. The Blair Witch Project took this a step further by claiming that the footage you were watching was authentic and that there were no actors involved, claims that skyrocketed that little indie project into one of the most talked-about films of its time. Tonight's film uses a similar idea, and before the "ripoff" accusations arise, it should be noted that this one premiered about a year before Blair Witch did; therefore, if anyone was ripped off, it was those who came up with the idea for The Last Broadcast. However, whether it's a ripoff or not is irrelevant: Blair Witch is an excellent film, and while The Last Broadcast shows potential, it quickly becomes apparent why it has languished in out-of-print hell for so long.

The storyline finds a group of local access television hosts who, desperate to increase the ratings for their "Fact or Fiction" show, decide to do a piece on the legend of the Jersey Devil. They plan to head out into the remote wooded area where this mythical creature is said to exist, and the show will be aired live on both television and the internet. Four people go into these woods and only one of them walks out, and what follows is something along the lines of a documentary which tells the story by way of "interviews" with the people who knew the deceased, discussions with those involved with the case, and of course, a look at the raw footage that these men shot before being murdered.

Up to a certain point in this movie, I was totally hooked on both the concept and the storyline. The footage seems realistic enough, the actors are quite convincing, and the storyline was coming along nicely up until that point. It's all based on a "real" creature, an urban legend which I won't go into detail about in this review (but you can read about it here if you're so inclined), and this adds just a little more credibility to the film. Whereas the Blair Witch legend was created solely by those who made the movie, the Jersey Devil is a real legend which is relatively well-known, and that goes a long way when you're trying to convince the audience that this footage and story is all authentic. Only the most gullible members of that audience would actually believe that it's all legit, of course, but it's fun to put logic and reason aside for ninety minutes and enjoy the presentation.

That's where this movie fails. Those of you interested in watching this movie should probably skip the rest of this paragraph as well as the next one since I'm going to spoil the big finale; I rarely do that in my reviews, but I believe it's warranted in this case. Remember how I said that I was really enjoying this movie up until a certain point? That point is when it's revealed that the Jersey Devil is nothing more than a media frenzy, the reporters are the true devils, and some other psychological bullshit which probably sounded good on paper but comes across as complete and utter trash here. The man responsible for the documentary about the case (the one who is doing the interviews and compiling all of the footage) is actually the guy who murdered these people, and we watch as he goes on and on about why he did it and puts on his best "Look, I'm insane!" face for the final moments of the film.

Why did I have such an issue with this? The main reason is because it completely ruined the theme and the direction of the movie. We're led to believe that there really is a demonic creature in the woods and we're convinced that this is all genuine footage, and in a split second, all of that is thrown out and replaced with a run-of-the-mill horror flick. Like I said, nobody believes that this is authentic, but you don't have to come right out and say that in the film either. Imagine if, during the final minutes of Blair Witch, the film switched to color and professional camera angles as we watched a bad actress come out and deliver the stereotypical witch performance - do you think the film would have done a fraction of the business it did? Of course not: it probably would have never saw the light of day, and that's the sole reason why everyone knows about that witch from Burkittsville while hardly anyone has heard of this.

Had this film rode out the "authentic footage, real events" storyline until the end, it would have probably received my highest recommendations. Had it instead focused on being just another horror film with a storyline that came across as more "movie"-like, it also could have succeeded in receiving some praise. However, the final result was a mish-mash of these two ideas with one completely destroying the other, and when the credits rolled, I felt more ripped off than I have in a long time. If you think I'm being too hard on this, I invite you to pick up a copy and waste ninety minutes of your life in order to form your own opinion. 3/10, and that's probably being too generous, but I did enjoy the first portion of the film.
Cryptorchild #1: Cryptorchild - added 01/29/2007, 07:49 PM
You know a few years back, this came on Cinemax on New Years Eve. The whole movie was a big secret and no one really knew what it was. I remember watching it trying to figure out if it was real or not. This was before Blair Witch was out so I wasn't familiar with the documtary/movie combo view. I loved the documentary aspect and how the story evolved in the film. But there was a defining part where the documentary stopped and the 'movie' began. It was at the very end I think. And that killed it for me. Other than the ending I loved it. I think a 3 is too low though. I would give it a 6/10.
Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #2: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 01/29/2007, 11:30 PM
Blech! I recall seeing this a few years ago as well on some movie channel. At first I was intrigued, but then I soon became annoyed, and once the ending dragged itself around... good grief.
bluemeanie #3: bluemeanie - added 01/30/2007, 04:50 PM
I remember getting this on DVD when it first hit, back when DVD was a baby. It was billed as being the film that inspired Blair Witch. In actuality, though Last Broadcast was released first, Blair Witch had been in development longer and Last Broadcast was easily the imitator. This film has nothing on Blair Witch and pales in comparison. The Jersey Devil has always been an interesting legend, but not interesting enough to make this a good film. As an avid ghost hunter and studier of parapsychology, The Jersey Devil could have been handled in a more pleasing manner. I recommend this only to watch back to back with Blair Witch and see which is the superior film. 3/10.
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