"The Last Broadcast"
Oh, what a great day
this is for me. I've been waiting for this sucker to come out since
the late nineties, when it first emerged, and I bought a copy on
Let me lay it out for you, here...this is a moment of history staring
you in the face. "The Last Broadcast" is the first ever
totally digital film ever released, so saith the IMDB. Shot digitally,
edited digitally, and released via digital projection--not so much
as one inch of film was used in the creation of the movie.
Which is a nifty achievement, make no mistake--but if it doesn't
stack up plotwise, it's not going to be worth your time to watch,
whether it was shot digitally, on film, or on a print of solid gold.
So what we have here plotwise is a small-time cable access show,
"Fact or Fiction", that's stumbled onto the biggest story
it's ever dealt with. "Fact or Fiction" is basically the
same kind of show you see on the Sci-Fi Channel every so often--"In
Search Of" is an excellent example--that deals in the exploration
and occasional debunking of paranormal myth and mystery. "Fact
or Fiction" is about to go after the Jersey Devil, the mystery
thing haunting the Pine Barrens in New Jersey. And they've gone
missing. The man authorities think killed them, Jim Suerd, is on
trial, and that's where we come in.
See, "The Last Broadcast" is a movie shot in reverse--filmmaker
David Leigh is reconstructing what lead up to the disappearance
and murder of the "Fact or Fiction" team. And as we go
through the movie, we'll rapidly find out that what most people
think happened to the "Fact or Fiction" crew doesn't even
begin to mesh with reality.
The less said about that the better--there are going to be a whole
lot of plot twists, red herrings, and other assorted lunacy that
we're going to wind up picking through in order to discover the
Probably one of the first things you're going to notice about "The
Last Broadcast" is the absolutely incredible similarity between
it and "The Blair Witch Project", which was released a
year later. Believe me, this hasn't been lost on a whole lot of
people—Google it. The sheer amount of speculation is nuts.
I know that, once or twice, I've referred to "The Last Broadcast"
as the spiritual father to "The Blair Witch Project",
although in retrospect, considering how the son turned out--a rich
bastard with no redeeming values whatsoever aside from a slick marketing
campaign and a cheesy franchise that actually managed to spawn video
games--maybe the father would rather not acknowledge the son.
But don't let that comparison stop you. "The Last Broadcast"
is amazing stuff. Even the tech references are fairly up to date
despite their age--five minutes and forty one seconds in gives us
possibly one of the first references to EVP in the description of
"otherworldly sounds" recorded on tape. A call-in section
is hosted through IRC, which plenty of people still use.
The obvious chemistry between Avalos and Weiler--acting as sound-alike
hosts Avkast and Wheeler--is a thing of beauty, and makes the final
product all the more believable. Where some people were fooled by
the intense marketing around "The Blair Witch Project",
I'd bet there'll be just as many if not more who'd wonder if this
wasn't an honest-to-God documentary about a couple goofs on a struggling
public access cable show who disappeared one night looking for the
The show itself is a comic gem--nine minutes and twenty four seconds
gives us our first look at "Fact or Fiction", complete
with metal folding chairs, xylophone-inspired theme music, and two
guys in goofy Western-style shirts dancing around the set holding
big grey stick mikes and announcing the show. It's two dorks in
a basement doing a show about ghosts--you might well have one on
your local public access cable.
"The Last Broadcast" does a fantastic job of slowly building
the suspense and the queasy, unnerving terror up from its slow but
amiable start. In less than an hour, we go from two dorks in a basement
to a mindbending, pulsepounding murder mystery.
The ending is just amazing. Nothing short. An absolutely incredible
twist takes place here, and when you see it, it will be a phenomenal
close to an already terrific movie. I'm using a whole lot of superlatives,
but trust me, they're not used in vain.
The special features include Avalos and Weiler's commentary from
both 1999 and 2006, English and Spanish subtitles, behind the scenes
footage from production, post-production, and distribution, as well
as a featurette from 1999 about the legend of the Jersey Devil.
All in all, part documentary, part murder mystery, part legend,
and all fantastic--"The Last Broadcast" is a part of indie
film history that also makes a great watch. See it for the great
plot, or see it for the touchstone of history, but see it.
Directed by Stefan Avalos, Lance Weiler
Written by Stefan Avalos, Lance Weiler
Starring Stefan Avalos, Lance Weiler, David Beard, James Seward
Produced by Stefan Avalos, Lance Weiler
1999 / 2006 (rerelease)
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