These Final Hours
Rustic in its appearance and blunt in its ideologies, Zak Hilditch’s These Final Hours displays an impressive look despite a less than modest budget, yet never manages to escape its formulaic plot and conflicts. The film begins shortly after a massive asteroid strike in the North Atlantic, which has already annihilated the American east coast, Europe and West Africa. All Australia can do is sit and wait for its turn in the firestorm; the residents of Perth choose to engage in the stock end-of-the-world activities such as rioting, praying and suicide – one person impressively hangs themselves from a lamppost. We join our hero James (Nathan Phillips) as he kisses one girlfriend, Zoe (Jessica De Gouw), goodbye to join a second at a party across town, pausing to rescue a young girl called Rose (Angourie Rice) and help reunite her with her family along the way.
These Final Hours takes its relatively simple points and bludgeons us with them over its brisk 86 minute runtime. The director wastes no time explaining the nature of the disaster or how it has occurred. We are dropped straight into James’s life and given little reason to root for him at first; he almost leaves Rose to the mercy of two rapists, and doesn’t even shed a tear upon discovering several members of his family dead. Phillips initially struggles in this two-dimensional tough-guy role, but grows more assured in his emotions by the film’s climax. He starts out a man of few words – much of the talking is done through the shaky, close camera work – but delivers a few heartfelt speeches by the end.
Of the various horrors the pair witness along the way, Hilditch at least knows the trick of hiding something in order to make it more affecting. Regular strange, abstract radio broadcast voiceovers provide an easy way to count down the time until zero hour, and young actress Rice is extremely affecting in her first major feature film role. Despite this, however, the film is too gruff to move at emotional moments, a quality undoubtedly appreciated by its target audience, and the mind wanders during frequent flashback scenes between James and whiny Zoe. If you need a better example of the Australian capacity for madness in an apocalyptic road movie try Mad Max: Fury Road.
These Final Hours is released nationwide on 6th May 2016.
Watch the trailer for These Final Hours here: