The Last Broadcast
Premise isn't everything. Attempting to crack into the generous Blair Witch audience a year before that indie phenomenon rang up the tills, The Last Broadcast boasts an eerily similar plot. A young camera crew takes to the remote woods of New Jersey to investigate an evil force steeped in local lore, but instead meet a grisly fate -- of which the only evidence is their recovered video footage. Directors Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler claim their movie, shot and edited entirely on digital video by Weiler, cost them a mere $900. That's great news for indie wannabes, because it looks terrific, and Weiler proves himself somewhat of a prodigy at the editing console. It's the weak narrative structure and development that cripples the project, dooming it to obscurity and leaving the door open for The Blair Witch Project to market itself as an innovative event. Instead of letting the cable crew's footage speak for itself, The Last Broadcast is told from the point-of-view of a documentarian piecing the evidence together. Unfortunately, in that role David Leigh is dour and dull, squelching the energy so many independent films rely on. As for the victims of this mysterious force, we see them only in clips, and their personalities never develop beyond one-dimensional ciphers. Avalos and Weiler never even bother to build up the myth of the "Jersey Devil." As a result, the first 45 minutes, prior to Leigh receiving a mysterious box of unspooled videotape, wander aimlessly without an empathetic core or compelling focus. Weiler's editing skills come alive during the last half, as Leigh chronicles a painstaking restoration process of his newly found, heavily damaged footage, but Leigh's ponderous presence remains an insurmountable obstacle. Like the otherwise spirited (if overrated) Blair Witch, the ending makes the whole effort feel like an unsatisfying trick. Although similarities and connections between the two films are considerable, they have never been broached in the courts -- and shouldn't be. Side by side they simply stand as the perfect example of how the right execution makes all the difference in the world. Presented in its original aspect ratio of standard 1.33:1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital. Includes commentary by directors and cast, featurette The True Legend of the Jersey Devil, trailer, and a behind-the-scenes look at the film's production, post-production and distribution. Keep case.