The Last Broadcast Chapter Two: Pandora’s Dawn (Michael G. Petersen, 2013)
I went into this short with the incorrect impression that it was being released as a sequel to the 1998 movie The Last Broadcast, a direct influence on The Blair Witch Project (which basically makes it the film that started the entire shakycam genre). It would seem—though I had to track down the movie’s facebook page tonight to find this out—that such is not the case; Petersen is making a web series with the name The Last Broadcast. So I’ve expanded my viewpoint a bit—this particular episode is not necessarily attempting to bait-and-switch its way into sequel status, Petersen is just trying to capitalize on the name of an unrelated (and far, far superior) film in order to draw attention to this series. I still end up at the same place though—this is a terrible piece of filmmaking, but were it attempting to stand on its own feet, I don’t think I would have hated it quite as much as I actually did.
Plot: Set (so the official description tells me) two years after the events of the first film, Pandora’s Dawn follows a group of survivors on a scouting and raiding mission. They case, and the enter, what seems to be an abandoned farmhouse as a group of the undead shambles inexorably closer—but they find that they are not as alone in the house as they thought they were.
In general, I’m good with low-budget, and even no-budget filmmaking; Ricardo Islas is one of my favorite currently-working filmmakers, for example. And when I go into a no-budget movie, I’m generally willing to give it a lot more leeway than I am I big Hollywood production. Keep that in mind when I tell you that every facet of this production ranges from the inept to the truly woeful. But I would’ve been willing to forgive most of that too, and would have just let this one roll off my back, maybe not even reviewing it (I don’t normally with shorts) were it not for one particular scene.
Now, something else to take into consideration: I saw this screened at Cinema Wasteland, a con that is all about celebrating the basest impulses in film and video. You don’t go to a con like CW without a strong stomach. And yet by the time we were halfway through this screening, there were about thirty people in the room, but after that scene ended, that number was cut in half. I can’t tell you what that scene contains for spoiler purposes (I will say that the content is extremely triggering), but I can tell you that a couple of members of the team find a VCR and TV in the basement, and that scene is the contents of one of the tapes they find. The content is bad enough, but what really got to me—and, I presume, what got to the fifteen or so people who walked out while this scene was playing (this at a convention where Bill Zebub’s movies are regularly screened, even)—is the absolute gleefulness, for lack of a better way of putting it, that comes through in the presentation of that scene. It really felt like the crew were enjoying themselves way, way too much there. It’s loathsome in the extreme. And, well, if that’s your gig, you might find this watchable. Otherwise, go well out of your way to avoid. One of the very, very few movies I truly regret having sat through. (zero)