THESE FINAL HOURS [FrightFest 2015]

PrintE-mail Written by Doc Charlie Oughton

Not everyone wants to be a hero at the end of the world. This is particularly the case for James, a ne’er do well who, in the first few minutes of These Final Hours, ups and leaves his partner to go to a party. He wants to get blitzed on drugs so that the impending apocalypse won’t seem quite so bad for him. Director Zak Hilditch’s film follows him and a group of other, otherwise normal folk as they decide how to die and frankly, it’s brilliant.

Nathan ‘Wolf Creek Phillips is James. Far from being the strong, no-nonsense doer his appearance suggests, Phillips imbues James with anger and a quiet level of undulating confusion about who he wants to be and what he wants to do, in contrast to his insistence that he ‘doesn’t want to feel a thing’. He is excellent and equally believably in the sparse and harrowing action sequences, but is almost outclassed by Angourie Rice as Rose… who was about 12 when the film was made. Rice is totally believable as the little girl determined to do right by her dad while also maintaining an unaffected glee when the odd bit of sunshine does come through the clouds. She has emotional control far beyond her years. The rest of the supporting cast are similarly appropriate, with very few duff moments. Even small touches such as the periodic radio announcer (David Field) perfectly alter the gradually changing mood. It is profoundly affecting.

The final and superb aspect of the film is the cinematography. We move from hellish suburbia through to oppressive open roads. The whole time small but perfectly shot frames remind us of the world both beyond, and constructed by, the narrative. Our world. There are places where the camera is cramped as people huddle together when they’re actually totally alone and spaces where symbolic distance doesn’t truly separate others. It gives the narrative an oddly dreamlike yet documentary quality and ultimately leads to huge emotional payoffs when destinations are reached. This is further emphasised by the gore levels within the piece. While there are a lot of bodies, they are often hidden, hazy or just glimpsed as if to suggest the lives have been carelessly devolved into mere objects on the way to oblivion sent by a God whom, the radio producer notes, didn’t really plan.   

These Final Hours offers the balm of a sentimental story without being in any way sentimental. It offers the action of a balls-out sci-fi while grabbing the audience by its character development and has cinematography so beautiful it will make you feel grand to be alive. These Final Hours is a gorgeous call to humanity and yes, you’ll get your money shot.

THESE FINAL HOURS / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: ZAK HILDITCH / STARRING: SARAH SNOOK,  JESSICA DE GOUW, NATHAN PHILLIPS / RELEASE DATE: TBC


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