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Last Broadcast

A movie directed by Stefan Avalos

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The (Jersey) Devil in You...

  • May 12, 2012
Rating:
-1
** out of ****

It's the upper end of the 1990's, and a film crew that works exclusively for New Jersey-based reality television program "Fact or Fiction" is hitting rock bottom. After a strong start, the founders are facing what looks to be cancellation and bankruptcy. They've simply ran out of good ideas, or anything to talk about at all; and when it seems like they've finally settled on a single, good idea, everything just falls apart on the spot. Then, out of the blue, comes an answer to their prayers; a brilliant young man named Jim Suerd, who claims to be quite experienced with the sort of paranormal phenomena and psychic activity that tends to attract the majority of the program's audience. Jim calls into the show one day and suggests that they do an extensive coverage of the Pine Barrens - indeed located in South Jersey - and the legend of The Jersey Devil, a mythological creature and landmark in historical cryptozoology. Intrigued by this idea and how it might revive the show, the members of the crew agree to travel to the Barrens - with Jim - and return with some spooky footage.

After a few days, only Jim had returned from the expedition. Everyone else was found murdered in brutally stylistic fashion, mutilated perhaps beyond comprehension. It seemed quite possible that Jim could have committed the crimes, but there are little details that create this looming aura of doubt. This is what drives the film - which opens after the events that were recorded on-camera have been filmed -, what gives it an overall purpose, and what makes it such a goddamn disappointment by the end. We learn that Jim was taken to court and imprisoned; dying only a few days after being locked up, under mysterious circumstances. This was just the beginning of what made for a rather perplexing downwards spiral of psychological proportions; and after a seemingly endless stream of interviews with loved ones and friends (in the form of his personal psychiatrist), it becomes clear that Jim might not be the killer of the crew after all.

I wanted to believe that it was the Jersey Devil all along. Paranormal phenomena and cryptozoology are two things that I've loved since my early days of childhood; which is why it's so devastating to see such ideas wasted in a bland - if not entertaining - waste of time such as this. Perhaps "The Last Broadcast" would have been effective if it didn't have such a bullshit logical explanation for everything. Throughout, I found myself on the edge of disbelief and intrigue; and by the time the credits had started rolling, I was beyond pissed. What was the point of building up so much if they had intended to do so little all along? Was it supposed to be scary, suspenseful, or ominous; because the twist makes it so it isn't either of the three. I won't spoil too much, since this seems to be the kind of movie that different people react differently too (appropriately enough); but all I know is that the twist ruined everything for me just as it did for others.

And think of it; I'm not the kind of guy who is easily angered by crappy twist endings. I think they can serve a purpose. Take, for instance, the film that this one is being constantly compared to; "The Blair Witch Project". To this day, I find that film absolutely brilliant in how it manipulates the audience's emotions with its realistic set-up, and finally fries our nerves with the chilling and ambiguous finale. I wanted "The Last Broadcast" to go in a similar direction - ending aside - but it took the exact opposite route and instead ends up falling flat on its stupid face. It is not, alas, a bad movie - regardless of the obvious technical shortcomings (the digital video that the film was shot on is almost proudly crappy, and this is far from a pretty looking film) - but it is still a maddeningly unsatisfying one. It's one that I wanted so much to love, but just could not. One of my rules of movie-watching is that if one ever has extensive periods of doubt in regards to the film's quality, then it cannot be called good. This could be certainly be said for "The Last Broadcast", which I liked in some instances more than I did in others.

What can I say? For a movie that sets itself up to feel absolutely authentic and real, "The Last Broadcast" still feels pretty damn fake. It never captures the documentary feel that it's going for all along, you never really invest in the characters no matter how much time you're forced to spend with them, and the pacing is just so damn uneven. Also, near the end, the thing takes a hokey philosophical detour, asking us to think for ourselves on just who or what the Jersey Devil really is (it is implied throughout the film that it could have been either Jim or the Jersey Devil itself who committed the grisly crimes). I've already expressed my most extreme complaints, but as of now, they are getting in the way of everything I saw, felt, or heard in regards to this film. This is not a particularly good sensation. With a bit of luck and time, perhaps these feelings will disappear with the memories of this movie. Wouldn't that be nice?

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June 14, 2012
It's a shame that the moviemakers did not realize the idea's potential. Thank you for an interesting warning. Well done.
 
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More Last Broadcast reviews
review by . September 05, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: you'll love it or hate it, no medium here - pardon the pun     Cons: described in review     The Bottom Line: There is only one Jersey Devil but which one is it?     I try not to read reviews or blurbs about a movie that is classified as ‘horror’ before I watch it. Generally I don’t even read the jacket cover or media hype at all, afraid something important will be given away. That was definitely the case in this release, …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie

Wiki

A trio of people with a cable access TV show venture into the wilds of New Jersey to make a documentary about a search for the legendary Jersey Devil. Days later, only one of them returns--and he quickly becomes a suspect in the murder of the other. Only when the footage they shot is found is the horrifying truth revealed. A controversy regarding the similarities between this film and THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT emerged upon the release of the latter in the summer of 1999. THE LAST BROADCAST was actually made first.
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Details

Director: Stefan Avalos
Release Date: 1998
MPAA Rating: Unrated
DVD Release Date: Ventura Distribution (November 30, 1999)
Runtime: 1hr 27min
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