What would you get if you crossed Grave Encounters and Body Cam? Probably something like Last Radio Call from writer/director Isaac Rodriguez (The Stream, A Town Full of Ghosts). Wikipedia defines “Last Radio Call” thusly
The End of Watch Call or Last Radio Call is a ceremony in which, after a police officer’s death (usually in the line of duty but sometimes from illness), the officers from his or her unit or department gather around a police radio, over which the police dispatcher issues one call to the officer, followed by a silence, then a second call, followed by silence.
In this case, the officer would be David Serling (Jason Scarbrough, Elite, A Darker Fifty Shades: The Fetish Set). Last Radio Call opens with bodycam footage of him and his partner answering a call about a disturbance at the abandoned Yorktown Memorial Hospital. What should be a routine call to disperse partiers or squatters ends up going very wrong.
A year later he’s officially still listed as missing, his partner survived but with amnesia. His wife Sarah (Sarah Froelich), still looking for answers hires a team of documentary filmmakers to find them. We’re told what we are seeing was assembled from the raw footage they shot.
The opening scenes, an expanded version of Rodriguez’s short Cop Cam, (the film itself is used later in Last Radio Call), are found footage done right. The building itself is a great location and the cinematography and sound design highlights how creepy it is. If all of Last Radio Call had been like this it would have been an excellent film.
Unfortunately, most of what we get in the film’s midsection isn’t nearly as frightening. We follow Sarah as she tries to find out what secrets lurk in the hospital’s history and what happened that night. It’s obvious something is going on, and someone, or something, doesn’t want it known. But a sunlit Texas suburb isn’t nearly as effective a setting as an abandoned hospital.
There’s also the question of why the camera crew sticks around after David’s supervisor Giles (Ali Alkhafaji) points a gun at them. When somebody turns up dead and rather than report it Sarah takes what she came for and leaves they still stick with her despite the risks of legal trouble or winding up dead themselves. It’s understandable that Sarah takes these risks to find out what happened to her husband, but these guys are just hired help with no skin in the game.
Rodriguez also doesn’t give us any real backstory on any of the characters. Sarah is a widow determined to find out what happened to her husband. That’s all we ever know about her. The camera crew is nothing more than an occasional muttered voice that usually needs to be close-captioned.
It’s too bad because Last Radio Call has an interesting story revolving around an entity known as The Red Sister. And it does manage to deliver some effective scenes, usually related to footage that takes us back to Yorktown Memorial Hospital. Some of it you’ll have to pay close attention to catch, such as a symbol in a bloodstain that appears so briefly it’s almost a subliminal image.
So, while it’s not a bad film, Last Radio Call is a disappointing one. It had the potential to be something special, but the lack of relatable characters and some questionable choices by the characters hold it back from achieving that potential.
Last Radio Call will be the first film to premiere on Terror Films’ AVOD YouTube Channel when it launches on January 14th. The film will be available on other platforms a week later, you can check their website and Facebook page for more details. The film is also available as a Blu-Ray from the production company’s website.