The Last Broadcast (film)
|The Last Broadcast|
$4 million (international)
The Last Broadcast is a 1998 American found footage horror film made by Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler. The film, told in documentary format, tells the story of a man convicted of murdering multiple people one night while searching for the Jersey Devil in the New Jersey Pine Barrens in 1995. The film is one of the first feature-length films to be shot entirely on consumer-level digital video.
The film deals with a documentary film-maker named David Leigh, and his investigation of the Fact or Fiction murders, where a pair of public-access television cable TV hosts were murdered in mysterious circumstances. Leigh sets out to find the truth behind these killings while making his documentary.
Fact or Fiction is a show dealing with unsolved mysteries and the paranormal. Its two hosts are Steven "Johnny" Avkast and Locus Wheeler. Initially a success, we find out through Leigh's investigations that the show is failing and is threatened with imminent cancellation. It is at this point that Avkast comes up with the idea of a live Internet Relay Chat section of the show.
It is during one such chat that a caller gives Avkast the idea of searching for the Jersey Devil in the Pine Barrens (the film only mentions the Jersey Devil, however, and gives absolutely no background details of the legend). Leaping on this idea, Avkast and Wheeler recruit Rein Clackin, a sound-man who allegedly can record the paranormal, and Jim Suerd, a psychic; Leigh later claims that Suerd is emotionally disturbed. The plan is for the four of them to enter the Pine Barrens, where Suerd will lead them to the location of the Jersey Devil. During the hunt, they will broadcast a live show simultaneously via television, Internet, and amateur radio.
They enter the Barrens, but only Suerd emerges alive; the others are horribly murdered. Avkast's body is never found, though it is made clear during Suerd's murder trial that he could not have survived considering the amount of blood lost at the crime scene. Leigh then summarizes the trial. Suerd, the only survivor, is also the only suspect. To aid the prosecution case they employ a video engineer (nicknamed "The Killer Cutter") to compile a portrait of the group's trip using the surviving film footage found at the crime scene. Suerd is found guilty and imprisoned, though there is doubt over his guilt as his clothes were not drenched in blood and there is evidence he was engaged in an IRC room at the times of the murders.
Before anything can be proven, Suerd dies in prison of unknown causes, and the case is considered closed by the authorities. However, Leigh has a box sent to him containing a damaged videotape reel, which Leigh assumes is tape from the Fact or Fiction team thought not to exist. A data retrieval expert named Shelly Monarch is called in to reconstruct the images on the tape. She finds that not only have Wheeler and Clacklin's deaths been caught on tape, but that Suerd could not have committed the murders. What is also caught is a blurred image of the real killer. As Leigh videotapes her, Monarch uses an image editor to re-construct the image of the killer's face. She completes the reconstructing of the image before Leigh's next visit, but she is shocked to discover that the killer is Leigh himself.
The camera then 'shifts' to a third person perspective, whereas all previous footage had been shot by Leigh. From this perspective we observe Leigh attack Monarch and suffocating her to death with a piece of plastic sheeting. He loads Monarch's corpse into his car and drives it out to the woods, where he dumps it in a clearing and then begins awkwardly videotaping himself narrating the next segment of his documentary.
- David Beard - David Leigh, the filmmaker
- James Seward - James "Jim" L. Suerd, the accused
- Stefan Avalos - Steven "Johnny" Avkast, "Fact or Fiction" host
- Lance Weiler - Locus Wheeler, "Fact or Fiction" host
- Rein Clabbers - Rein Clackin, paranormal sound man
- Michele Pulaski - Michelle "Shelly" Monarch, data retrieval expert
- Tom Brunt - Thomas "Tom" Branski, "Fact or Fiction" video engineer
- Mark Rublee - Clair Deforest, video editor for the prosecution
- A.D. Roso - Detective Anthony Rosi, lead investigator
- Dale Worstall - Dr. Dale Orstall, Jim's child psychologist
- Vann K. Weller - Vann K. Waller, forensic pathologist
- Sam Wells- Sam Woods, film & television director
- Jay MacDonald - Jay McDowell, web designer
- Faith Weiler - Joyce Dryer, Jim's landlady
- Marianne Connor - Mary Brenner, TV reporter
Production and release
The Last Broadcast is believed by some to be a possible candidate for being the first feature-length video shot and edited entirely on consumer-level digital equipment.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2013)
The Last Broadcast received mixed reviews from critics and audiences, earning an approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes of 50%. The film is sometimes erroneously cited as an inspiration to The Blair Witch Project, but the concept for that film was developed in 1993 and production began in October 1997, five months before the premiere of The Last Broadcast.
The Last Broadcast was released theatrically in the United States on October 23, 1998, and grossed $12,097 at the U.S. box office.
The Last Broadcast was released through Ventura Distribution on VHS and DVD. Wavelength Releasing also was a part of the DVD releasing. Heretic Films re-released the DVD in 2006.
- "The Last Broadcast". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
- Coleman, Loren; Hallenbeck, Bruce G. (2010). "Jersey Devil". Monsters of New Jersey: Mysterious Creatures in the Garden State. Stackpole Books. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-8117-3596-4. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
- "The Last Broadcast (1998)". The New York Times. New York: NYTC. 2010. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
- Laslett, Alison (January 11, 1997). "The Last Broadcast is A First: The Making of a Digital Feature". Videomaker.com. Retrieved July 16, 2014.