This week's tape is Stefan Avalos & Lance Weiler's 1998 faux documentary The Last Broadcast.
David Leigh (David Beard) documents his search for the truth behind the murders of three filmmakers in the Pine Barrens.
I am reticent to call this a “found footage” movie because it was made before it was even a thing. Sure, there were pioneers like Cannibal Holocaust and Man Bites Dog, but this concept was still very new in the West. It wasn't until The Blair Witch Project burst onto the scene a year later that the floodgates opened. I do have to give the filmmakers credit for what they accomplished for under a grand. That's a fraction of even Blair's budget!
|Fact or Fiction? hosts Steven & Locus.|
The Last Broadcast was definitely innovative - it's apparently the first feature to be shot and edited entirely on digital equipment - but it is also very rough around the edges. Ten minutes in, I was like "is this what this is?" At times I wondered if it was supposed to be a parody, and I guess in some ways it is. I did have a chuckle reliving pre-millennium tech like IRC and big-ass laptops - that have batteries that last forever and connect to the Internet in the middle of the forest!
Obviously, the comparisons between this and Blair are easy to see, and it is no surprise which one became a household name - and it's not just because of the latter's groundbreaking marketing campaign. Both are raw, but while Blair focused on story and bone-chilling lore, The Last Broadcast clung to its clunky and often wooden film within a film narrative. For a film about looking for the Jersey Devil, there's very little time allotted to said legend. Seemed like a bit of a missed opportunity to me.
The whole medium is the message diatribe Leigh drones on about toward the end is a bit eye-rolling and then the climax happens. In theory, it is quite unsettling, but that moment is so clumsily edited together it left me going, wut? Despite The Last Broadcast's shortcomings, it is still an amusing time capsule of a subgenre that has become one of horror's touchstones.