The Last Broadcast

Last night I watched The Last Broadcast (IMDB), the 1998 film that many people have identified as an inspiration for The Blair Witch Project. There are some startling similarites, especially the use of the mock-documentary style to track a ghost figure (in this case, the “Jersey Devil,” suggesting that the filmmakers must have been watching hockey when they came up with idea for this film). In both films, camera crews go into the woods and never return, leaving behind film and/or video footage as one of the few clues to their deaths. Both films also were made with incredibly low budgets (The Last Broadcast for around $900), but with “Broadcast,” it’s interesting to note that it has been called “the first ‘desktop feature film'” because it was filmed, edited, and screened entirely digitally.

There are some other important differences between the two films. Unlike Blair Witch, which exploits video and 16mm to create a cinema (or video) verite style, Broadcast uses more of a talking-heads approach, with interviews, archival footage, and voice-over narration supporting the director’s investigation of the story after the fact. As many critics, including James Berardinelli, point out, the film’s final act ultimately undermines the faux-documentary style that the film had been carefully building.

For now, I’ll likely mention Broadcast briefly in my media horror film paper. It doesn’t play like a typical horror film (by the way, I’m getting sick of horror films, can’ty wait to finish this article), but instead seems closer to a satire of investigative documentary (with some element of mystery).

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