THESE FINAL HOURS
A catastrophic event has doomed earth and Australia is just hours from obliteration, and James (Nathan Phillips) can't face it just with his girlfriend Zoe (Jessica De Gouw). As he leaves her to go to his friend's (Daniel Henshall) house where an end-of-the-world rave party is in full swing, on the empty street he sees two thugs kidnapping a little girl. Feeling compelled to go to her aid, James rescues her and with nowhere else to keep her safe, he takes Rose (Angourie Rice) to the party. But fuelled by drugs and alcohol, the party is no place for Rose and James has to decide what to do in these final hours.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
What began as a 10 minute short about the end of the world and how some characters in Perth would behave in the last few hours, has ended up as a feature film about the same subject. Screen Australia knocked back the short for funding, but thanks to that 'no', the film makers took on the bigger project, with Robert Connolly lending the weight of his name and reputation (as executive producer) to the project, which opened doors and to calls being returned.
After a brief opening shot of an asteroid flaring its hot way furiously through the sky, presumably towards Earth, the ticking clock effect is provided by a lone amateur radio operator (David Field's voice) offering occasional reports. There is no other radio. There are no other services. Anarchy seems to have taken hold as high rises burn in the distance.
Establishing the sense of a society free of restraint, self centred Jimmy (Nathan Phillips, terrific) leaves his mistress to visit his girlfriend, but is diverted en route by a couple of thugs kidnapping a little girl. He reluctantly goes to the rescue and thus triggers his journey of change. Some people may find this early sequence confronting, but it is certainly valid within the film's context.
Write/ director Az Hilditch avoids scientists explaining what's happening. He is more concerned about what the characters do; how they react, behave and relate to their relationships. Some of it seems reasonably credible, some of it is the filmmaker's imagination. But then the end of the world is hard to imagine, and Zac Hilditch's speculation about what we would do is as valid as yours or mine.
Strong performances drive the tension, with little Angourie Rice delivering a superb performance as Rose, the catalyst for James to change course and eventually find a redemptive way to face the end.
Lynette Curran is superb as his mum who has more or less given up on her unreliable son, and Kathryn Beck has a spectacular meltdown as Vicky, James' girlfriend ... or one of them. It may become the film's iconic scene.
Opening sequence sets up the scenario as well as the edgy tone, and Perth provides a handy set of city and suburban locations. Hilditch does a spectacular job with limited funds, both in terms of the production values generally, and in managing the difficult, large scale 'end of the world' party sequences.
It's an attention grabbing debut.
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THESE FINAL HOURS (MA15+)
CAST: Nathan Phillips, Sarah Snook, Daniel Henshall, Jessica De Gouw, Angourie Rice, Kathryn Beck, Lynette Curran
VOICES: David Field
PRODUCER: Liz Kearney
DIRECTOR: Zak Hilditch
SCRIPT: Zak Hilditch
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bonnie Elliott
EDITOR: Nick Meyers, Meredith Watson Jeffrey
MUSIC: Cornel Wilczek
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Nigel Devenport
RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 31, 2014