The ending DESTROYS all that came before: BE WARNED!
Derek Jager | NYC | 11/11/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This has an intersting premise (forget all the BLAIR WITCH comparisons)and they do an okay job building on the set up.
But the end -- the last 10 minutes -- discounts all that went before, so you're left with a bad aftertaste!
So rent it -- just to see how bad they screw up -- but don't buy it!"
Hardly a thinking-man's "Blair Witch"
Rottenberg's rotten book review | nyc | 10/30/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"A bunch of media doofuses trek into remote woods in search of an old and horrific local legend - and are never seen alive again. By now, "Last Broadcast" will go down (for those few who've seen and remember it) as that other mock-documentary project about the supernatural. I wanted to give this flick a chance given how I've seen "Blair Witch", and not only does "Broadcast" fail by comparison, but fails to escape comparison - painfully ironic given that "Broadcast" is actually the older of the two movies.
WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT: "Broadcast" is a (wholly fictitious) documentary about the 1995 murders of several men who ran a local cable-access show called "Fact or Fiction". When ratings sag, Steve Avkast, Rein Clackin & Locus Wheeler decide to devote a show to the mysterious "Jersey Devil". With the "help" of a local magician and (alleged) psychic named Jim Suerd, our trio make a winter's journey deep into the remote "Pine Barrens". While there, they have their cameras and internet access - they're connected to the outside world, but not protected by it. Only Suerd will emerge alive from the Barrens - luckless, he will be convicted of the brutal murders of two of the others. No body is found of Avkast, precluding feckless prosecutors from pursuing a triple bill against Suerd. (Avkast's hat and gobs of his blood leave little doubt of his fate.) Lacking a confession, prosecutors seal Suerd's fate with his blood spattered clothes, but largely on the strength of preserved video footage showing him as randomly violent and (most importantly) the guy leading the group deeper into the barrens. The documentary begins after Suerd's mysterious death in prison - where he was to serve consecutive life sentences. When the documentarian receives battered remains of an additional video tape - the actual final broadcast of the "Final Broadcast" crew - producer David Leigh switches gears. Reconstructed footage critically undermines the timeline advanced by prosecutors at Suerd's trial, forcing Leigh to rethink the events leading up to the horrific multiple murders of the Pine Barrens, and the very meaning of such legends as "The Jersey Devil" in the modern digital age. (The flick was released in '98, based on events occurring in '95.)
WHAT GOES WRONG: overshadowed by "Blair Witch", "Broadcast" actually derives its inspiration from two other movies - but naming them would spoil the ending (which the producers obviously consider a real twist). "Blair" and "Broadcast" have similar sounding premises but each takes a different turn - one that informs the superiority of "Blair". While "Blair" just gave us the raw footage of 2 films (the documentary that Donahue was shooting AND the DAT she shot documenting her journey), "Final" is structured like a documentary itself - it's the single-minded product of Leigh's vision, complete with his voice-overs and his perspective. "Final" lacks that sense of natural transition from reasoned observation to mad desperation that we enjoyed in "Blair" as our heroes realized that they had become trapped in their own project. "Final" has Leigh directing us as much as his film - telling us what we were to think, what direction to pursue, what to expect. The story has some chills, but mostly that's undermined by its slickness - it looks produced rather than nurtured, with some computer graphics, and actors who bring admirable vigor to their characters without escaping the thin dossiers created for them. (Suerd is a laughable, if harmless idiot who thinks he really is a magician; Avkast, half the visible face of "Fact or Fiction" is a self-important hack desperate to save his stupid show, even though cable access slots are supposed to be given on a first-come basis; Wheeler & Clackin are just a couple of loudmouths who mercilessly ridicule anybody who takes their show seriously.) "Blair" excelled in its ability to show the nuanced changes suffered by its characters, but there's no nuance here.
If anything, "Broadcast" probably enjoyed, rather than suffered exposure to "Blair", offering an alternative to anybody turned off by the latter film's shameless promotion (vindicated by "Book of Shadows") or otherwise made into a "Blair Hater". Unlike "Blair" which relied on a steady stream of shocks, "Broadcast" leads up to a twist ending, one which requires suspension of our disbelief, and shamelessly relies on our reflexive skepticism of the media (and just about everybody else). Fans of this movie must think that if it's less popular than "Blair", it must be more worthwhile than that movie, more of a thinking-man's version of that movie, even though it doesn't evince any more thinking of its own."