The Last Broadcast (1998)

Director: Lance Weiler, Stefan Avalos.
Starring: David Beard, James Seward, Stefan Avalos, Lance Weller. UK. 1h 26m

The year before the Blair Witch (1999) blew us away the Last Broadcast has already been released, but there’s a lot of nay saying about which one came first, it’s certain that Blair Witch caught more media attention and was reportedly started before this film but whichever way they were produced, this $900 film grossed $4 million at the box office which makes a much bigger success by comparison.

The film deals with a documentary filmmaker named David Leigh (Beard) and his investigation of the Fact or Fiction murder, where a group of TV hosts were murdered under mysterious circumstances,. As the show was only on a mere public access channel the death didn’t make the headlines and Leigh takes it on himself to find discover the truth behind the killings while making his documentary.

The Fact of Fiction show deals with unsolved mysteries and the paranormal, the two hosts, are Steven “Johnny” Avkast (Avalos) and Locus Wheeler (Weller). While the show started off as a success the ratings started to drop forcing the duo to come up with some inventive ways to gain more viewers the first point was to introduce a live Internet Relay Chat section to the show.It’s during one of these chats that someone gives them the idea of searching for the Jersey Devil in the Pine Barrens, although the film doesn’t really give much history on the subject, they recruit a psychic and a character called Clackin (Rein Clabbers) who claims he can record  the paranormal on tape. The psychic, Jim, turns out to be quite unstable but they carry on the plans to go out to barrens and record live.

They enter the barrens but sadly only Jim returns, he’s the prime suspect, and after the courts hire a video engineer to piece together the found footage it’s clear that Jim is the culprit. But when he’s found dead in prison and a mysterious box of new video footage is left on Leigh’s doorstep the real mystery begins to unfold.

Possibly the earliest film, recorded fully on everyday consumer-level digital equipment it’s look and feel is exactly what a 90’s found footage film should look like, and what a lot of bigger productions totally mess up on. It has a lot of plausibility for the feel, and the story line good, again there are people who are out searching for horrific  legends and running into a world of carnage. The acting isn’t supposed to be great, after all it’s just supposed to be people going about their daily lives but the presentation is spot on as the characters are believable.

Overall I didn’t enjoy the film as much as Blair Witch and a host of other found footage films, there was a huge amount of time wasted on the trip out to the barrens and despite the short length the final chapter just was abruptly shunted in after a giant lull. But the twisted end to the story and the effort put into it, goes to show it’s a brilliant project but just not my cup of tea.

Rating 3/10

R: The Blair Witch Project (1999), The Barrens (2012)

L: A-Z of Found Footage movies, Jersey Devil Films

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