Will You Dare to Answer The Last Radio Call (2022)?
Title: Last Radio Call
First Non-Festival Release: January 14, 2022 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Isaac Rodriguez
Writer: Isaac Rodriguez
Runtime: 76 Minutes
Starring: Sarah Froelich, Jason Scarborough, Ali Alkhafaji
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Police officer David Serling (Jason Scarborough) goes missing on a call to investigate a rundown hospital in the small town of Yorktown, Texas. One year later, his wife (Sarah Froelich) is so desperate for answers she enlists the services of a documentary team to film her journey in finding the truth. Sarah is met with firm resistance from the police force and is only able to get her first break after talking with David’s partner Giles (Ali Alkhafaji). The farther Sarah and the crew fall down the rabbit hole, they learn of the truly mysterious and sinister forces at work.
A few good scares cannot offset the well-worn script and shoddy performances in Last Radio Call.
One of the noticeably shakier points of Last Radio Call are its plot and script. A series of resets in the filming are arbitrarily given the moment the characters experience any pushback. Sarah ends the project early at the first sight of police intervention yet by the end she witnesses an actual possession after performing a ritual, and is seemingly unphased? What’s more is the documentary crew doesn’t have the same drive to continue yet does so out of obligation to the film. It is certainly one of the flimsier rationales for continuing to film in a found footage scenario.
What’s weaker than its rationale is its cast. The acting gets rough before the action gets a chance to escalate. Nearly every actor over emotes, places emphasis on weird intonations, or makes inappropriate facial expressions at most junctions of the film. Serious moments are often left comedic due to rudimentary acting which costs the film believability, something a found footage film desperately needs to capitalize on its setup. Part of this may be due to the rote and circuitous dialogue. Regardless, the story falters because of the unconvincing delivery.
The only remotely compelling character is the ghost witch serving as the disembodied antagonist for the majority of the film. Her backstory is decently fleshed out and the description of her torment is satisfyingly undesirable. The issue, however, is that Last Radio Call leans into the Native American mysticism angle to sell its story, even conjuring up the same old story of an ancient burial ground causing some of the havoc. Cliché at best and tone deaf at worst, Last Radio Call has no qualms in reveling in familiarity.
Quality does shine through in portions of Last Radio Call. While most of the film is plodding and familiar, there are several well-placed jump scares that do add to the overall film. It is very unsettling and capitalizes on this energy. The first act starts slow before picking up momentum in its second half and rushing through its climax. From a filmmaking standpoint it is indistinguishable from any other low budget supernatural shaky cam flick. This does work in its favor, as Last Radio Call can lean into the predictability before pulling out a good scare from left field.
There is always a low risk, high reward mentality behind found footage horror films and Last Radio Call is certainly no exception to this rule. Cliché after cliché is seamlessly integrated into the plot and action sequences that it begins to feel like a generic version of every found footage movie out there. This, somehow, works to its advantage because some of the scares are pretty good, which is pleasantly surprising. Additionally, its antagonist and lore does plenty of heavy lifting to make this film more engrossing than it has any right to be. Writer and director Isaac Rodriguez clearly has a strong vision, so I am interested to check out his other work and see what he does next. While Last Radio Call may not be the most exciting thing you will see, it’s certainly one that is worth giving a listen.
Overall Score? 4.5/10