In a spooky special edition of Delayed Perspective I wanted to recommend a chilling gem of a movie. The Last Broadcast was released in the midst of the first wave of the found footage genre, a storytelling device made popular by the mega successful, global phenomenon that is The Blair Witch Project. The Last Broadcast was actually released in 1998, before The Blair Witch, but although it did well it never captured the imagination of the public in the way that Blair Witch did. Blair Witch began life in 1994 and had a brilliant and extensive viral campaign building up to its eventual release in 1999, this sort of campaign, fully utilising the internet as a marketing tool in a way no film had done before, was a relatively new idea and another reason Blair Witch became such a trend setter.
The Last Broadcast was written and directed by Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler (the duo also starred in the film) and its storyline is uncannily similar to the Blair Witch with TV hosts Steven Avkast and Locus Wheeler (thinly veiled references to the writer/directors) searching for “The Jersey Devil”. “The Jersey Devil” of course sounding in no way like “The Blair Witch”. A group of people including Avkast and Wheeler enter the Pine Barrens in search of the devil and all but one of the group is murdered. The surviving member of the group is convicted of the grisly murders and it is these killings that are being investigated by documentary filmmaker David Leigh. It is through Leigh’s perspective of documentary maker that the film is told. He is using the found footage from Avkast and co.’s ill fated trip into the Pine Barrens to investigate their deaths, as he believes the wrong man may have been convicted. Leigh is eventually sent a box containing a damaged videotape reel, that may be a tape presumed missing from the Pine Barrens’ trip, and he calls in an expert to clean up the tape and reveal the real killer. This leads to the films’ shocking conclusion.
Made for an alleged $900, the genius of The Last Broadcast is its clever plotlines and the way it cunningly plays with the lost footage device. The low-budget merely adds to the chill factor lending everything an ultra real feel. I found this film a lot scarier than Blair Witch and it has more of a psychological impact, this film will worry away at you for weeks. The Last Broadcast is low on gore but full of foreboding and its terror is to be found in the unseen and suggested and it has a completely unexpected twist. This is definitely a film to be watched with all the lights on, preferably with company.
Happy Halloween to you all and why not come back here tomorrow to read the first instalment of my new short story “A Cornish Tale”.