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Film / The Last Broadcast

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The Last Broadcast is a 1998 horror film, directed and written by Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler.

The film is presented as documentary about the crew of a public-access cable TV show, Fact or Fiction, who went into the woods in rural New Jersey to search for The Jersey Devil, and all but one of whom are killed. While the surviving crew member - Jim Suerd - was convicted for the murder, the film sets out to prove his innocence.

The film is notable for predating The Blair Witch Project for heavy use of found footage in a horror movie setting, for being made on a budget of only $900 using 90s home computer technology and for almost every character being The Danza.


Tropes featured in this movie:

  • Apocalyptic Log: The footage shot by the Fact or Fiction crew includes their deaths.
  • Cassandra Truth: Naturally no one really takes Jim being a psychic that seriously, a fact that greatly annoys him. Played with later on, as David seems to indicate the possibility that the Jersey Devil is behind the killings, but no one entertains that idea. They are of course correct as the killer is shown to be a human being; David Leigh himself, in fact.
  • Documentary of Lies: The footage that was shown to the prosecutors to convict Suerd is implied to have been subject to Manipulative Editing to make him look guilty. The whole film itself turns out to be one as well, and the entire documentary genre is accused of this by extension.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: Especially on the urging of an untraceable IRC message.
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  • Downer Ending: It seems that Suerd's innocence is proven (though posthumously), but the real culprit of the Jersey Devil murders roams free still.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: It looks like the point of the Mockumentary is to prove Suerd's innocence, but really the real killer just couldn't take his perfect murders being put down as the work of a random psycho.
  • Enhance Button: Deconstructed, as it takes a data retrieval expert hundreds of hours to piece together the final frame of heavily damaged film revealing the killer to be the Mockumentary's narrator, David Leigh.
  • Everybody Dies: Before David Leigh started working on his documentary, Jim Suerd, the sole member of the Fact or Fiction crew to make it back from the trip, died under mysterious circumstances in prison.
  • Foreshadowing: "With the documentary film, I mean, ultimately it's what the filmmaker perceives as the truth, I mean, don't you think? That's what you're trying to do, right?"
  • Found Footage Films: The Fact or Fiction crews last recordings feature heavily. It's also a plot point as David get his hands on the missing and damaged tapes of that night, and seeks to repair them. Given that he's the killer, he likely had these tapes all along.
  • The Jersey Devil: Serves as the motivation for the trip into the woods. The film tries to set up a Real All Along reveal for a while, but in the end it's a Red Herring.
  • The Last Title: The title.
  • Machine Monotone: The suggestions that Fact or Fiction received through IRC were played in the show through a program that voiced them in a monotonous manner. The show's technical director Branski comments that he always found the voice creepy.
  • Manipulative Editing: probably one of the most impressive examples.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Played With. No one seems to seriously considering that anything supernatural is afoot, with Jim's psychic sessions being dismissed as parlor tricks; although the fact one of his tricks shown the date of the murders is used by prosecution to indicate that he premeditated the murders. That being said, given his innocence, it comes off as rather eerie.
  • Mockumentary: A deadly serious example.
  • Mundanger: Despite The Jersey Devil being a subject of interest by the Fact or Fiction crew,at no point is it seriously considered as a possibility of being the killer, aside from David leaning to this angle. Of course, the mundane assumptions are correct, as the killer is in fact David himself.
  • Narrator All Along: You know the identity of the narrator from the very first scene. What you don't know, however, is that he is the murderer in the documentary he's showing us.
  • Never Found the Body: The body of Fact or Fiction host Steven Avkast is never found, only blood and his hat. The only reason he isn't considered a suspect is because of the amounts of his blood that was found.
  • New Media Are Evil: Debated within the movie, with the more sympathetic characters coming out against it.
  • Prima Donna Director: How Steven is described as. Statements after his death show him as an overly ambitious director with dreams of stardom, despite merely being the host of a broadcast network show.
  • Red Herring: The Jersey Devil itself never shows up in the film. It's talked about a lot, and the gruesome end of the crew seems to indicate the possibility that some kind of monster is responsible, but The Reveal shows that killer indeed was human.
  • The Reveal: Documentary's narrator David Leigh in fact knew the killer's identity from the start: it's him.
  • Rewatch Bonus: On the second viewing, the Double Meaning of lots of things that the narrator says becomes painfully obvious.
  • The Scapegoat: After the murders, it would seem that the prosecution was too eager to convict Jim and be done with the case, going as far as to have the recovered footage edited to implicate Jim's guilt in addition to the circumstantial evidence found on him. After the fact, quite a few people come to his defense due to how paper thin the conviction was.
  • Show Within a Show: Fact or Fiction, whose dwindling viewership has led to the search of the Jersey Devil.
  • Snow Means Death: The search for the Jersey Devil and the subsequent murders occur during a dark winter night.
  • Title Drop: Done by the narration when the footage reaches the moment when Avkast and co. start broadcasting their show from Pine Barrens.
    Leigh: At 10 PM, in what will be the last broadcast, Fact or Fiction goes live.
  • Twist Ending: When the film reaches the point where Michelle is supposed to reveal the identity of the killer, there's a sudden shift from documentary to traditional film-making to reveal David Leigh as the culprit, and showing him covering his tracks by killing Michelle.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Not only the narrator as a person - the whole genre of documentary is shown to be prone to manipulation and thus unreliable. Even discussed in the movie itself (see New Media Are Evil).
  • You Know Too Much: The reason Michelle had to die. Bonus cruelty points for the murderer deliberately giving her the tape the reconstruction of which led to this trope.

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