These Final Hours [2013]

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Directed by Zak Hilditch

The world is coming to an end; a meteoroid strike has caused a chain reaction that is gradually engulfing the entire planet. When we start, a radio announcer informs us of the situation in a grim tone, telling us nonchalantly that Europe no longer exists. The end of the world is 12 hours away, and the same radio announcer occasionally is heard in between scenes, informing us of the destruction of the rest of the planet. With this certainty approaching, the lead character James (Nathan Phillips) decides that he doesn’t want to feel it, and just wants to get ‘fucked up’ in true Australian style. So, despite some major emotional obstacles, James decides that he cannot miss this party to literally end all parties. But when he witnesses Rose (Angourie Rice) being abducted, he cannot bring himself to steal the abductor’s van for his own use as he hears her screams. Suddenly, this stereotypical alpha-male has to decide if he can really be a man and look after this young girl.

Both lead actors put in stellar performances, with only the script holding them back from being close to perfect; as on a few occasions the script sunk into sentimental soap opera territory. Thankfully these moments were few. Nathan Phillips did a solid job; the way his acting progressed alongside his character’s development as the film went on was great work. However, I was extremely, extremely impressed with the young Angourie Rice. She is plunged into a bleak and very messy world, but has the acting chops to pull off a variety of emotions that couldn’t have felt more natural, and put many experienced actors to shame. Moreover, the chemistry between the two leads was perfect, as both their characters, and their relationship, developed steadily and deeply as the film moved along. This is a brutal movie with many violent scenes; but it has a heart.

It very much starts off with a bang, as the title of the movie is shown in a very abrasive fashion, and barely five minutes in there is tense conflict. It also has some great, albeit very dark, Australian humour that may or may not go down with viewers abroad. The narrative/plot is sparse, and rather than a story, the movie feels more like a series of events unfolding until the credits rolled, presenting a character study of this egotistical young man who has to really look within himself. Given the post-apocalyptic concept turned upside-down though – they know the end is coming – this skinny plot is more than enough. There is also more than enough action, and while this isn’t intensely violent, when it is, the blood really does spill.

Both the visuals and the sound of this movie are something to admire. For a first feature film, Zak Hilditch has created a very unique style for himself, with many interesting shots of the sun, the clouds; the nature that is ready to be burnt alive, not to mention the stunning, spine-chilling visual feast of the final scene. It will take your breath away. The sound was also extremely well executed; not only was the soundtrack appropriate for the movie, silence was used very effectively, and subtle effects like the sound of ears ringing, blocking out all other sound, were used purely to convey the intensity of the emotion on screen, and these two elements of the movie were perfect.

This isn’t your average movie. It is visceral and endlessly pessimistic, but at the same time is filled with emotion and hope. While the script does let the movie down at times, these times aren’t often. The movie is predominately populated by memorable, eccentric characters, many with heads full of eclectic drug-cocktails. The subject matter is heavy, but it is handled deftly and with a heart, culminating in a brilliant film, even more-so considering this is the first feature film for the Aussie director.

4/5

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27 Comments on “These Final Hours [2013]

  1. I’ve never heard of this one! It looks really damn good though! I gave the trailer a look after being very impressed by that poster. I also happened to notice that this has recieved great reviews everywhere. It appears that I must give it a shot whenever I get the chance!

    Like

    • Thanks for reading mate 🙂

      And yeah, this one was fantastic, I went to see it twice when it was screening. There are some seriously unforgettable scenes. This year has been good to Australian film… and coming up next is Felony, starring Joel Edgerton who co-wrote The Rover. It looks really good!

      Like

  2. Great review! I like your observation about the use of sound in the movie. I hadn’t thought of it while watching it, but you’re right. This movie did make effective use of silence, which isn’t an easy feat. I also 100% agree with your comment about Angourie Rice. She was spectacular. I look forward to seeing her in future films.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeah for a child actor she was amazing considering the insanity of the movie, hell the initial scene where James rescues here is really intense!

      I love it when sound and silence are used effectively in movies, and from memory this was one of them. And how about that last scene eh? Its like they saved half the entire budget just for that final scene! Twas worth it though, boy did it look amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It really did. I was so impressed! For what I’m pretty sure is a relatively low budget movie, the effects were spectacular! Couldn’t believe it. Like you said, it took my breath away.

        Liked by 1 person

      • it took mine away too! And yeah, pretty much every movie made here is on a low budget. Our cinema industry gets bugger all support from anyone really, yet especially last year we churned out several quality movies, most notably The Babadook which seemed to go down well around the world.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Cool! it reminded me a lot of Rosemary’s baby. Though I didn’t like the ending, I loved how the mother was probably the scariest thing in the movie!! And how about that insane final act huh? Such tension!! yeah that was one of my faves from last year too

        Liked by 1 person

      • I have a theory that the movie is a metaphor for her dealing with a mental illness and the ending depicts her having to deal with it every day even though she has it under control. That makes the ending worth it for me. If you take it at face value though, I agree, the ending isn’t the greatest compared to the rest of the movie.
        I felt like I was holding my breath through the final act. Such amazing story telling!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah i hear what you are saying, at I understand that perspective of the ending. For me though… it felt like the entire movie had left the babdook ambigigious, real or not real. That final scene for me seems to suddenly make it a literal thing, feeding it worms etc. But other than that the movie is superb

        Liked by 1 person

      • That is why I like rosemary’s baby so much. The complete ambiguity at the end makes it even more horrifying. If you haven’t seen that and liked the babadook then you really gotta watch it. Genuine classic

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve seen Rosemary’s Baby and I see exactly what you’re talking about. It really is a classic. The comparison is really interesting. I hadn’t thought of it that way before but you have a very valid point. I’m still happy with The Babadook but the end would probably have been more compelling if it had been ambiguous.

        Liked by 1 person

      • yeah that is what I thought, but it doesn’t make the previous hour and a half any less thrilling. Its a fantastic movie by a young aussie directtor

        Liked by 1 person

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