This is the end. The Earth has been hit by an asteroid and a wall of fire is travelling around the planet, obliterating all life. In Perth, Australia, 12 hours remain. How would you spend them? These Final Hours is reviewed after the jump.
On Earth’s final day James (Nathan Phillips) is intending to party hard. Leaving his lover Zoe (Jessica De Gouw), who wants to watch the end from the beach, he heads to an epic party hosted by his mate Freddy (Daniel Henshall). The streets are a mess and while trying to navigate a way to the party, James gets waylaid by locals who have clearly already checked out of society. Among the crazies and monsters roaming the wasteland of suburbia are two men who have kidnapped a young girl (Rose, played by Angourie Rice). Some ounce of decency and selflessness stirs inside James and he rescues her. Rose wants nothing more than to get back to her father so they can be together at the end, but what’s a guy who only wants to party until the end supposed to do?
The most terrifying part about this film is not that its the end of the world, it’s how humans treat each other when it happens. Judging by the state of the streets, people had some warning the asteroid was going to hit, and society has already crumbled. Lawlessness and savagery reigns, and perhaps even more horrifying than an unavoidable fiery death, is death by torture, by machete, by hanging and almost any other horrific means you can imagine. Disregard for human life and thuggish behavior can already be seen in our current society, it’s no stretch at all to imagine that this really would be how things end. It’s really quite chilling.
The film-makers do give us some hope though. There are moments of real human connection, of love and of kindness. James is for the most part a meathead, a guy that only thinks about himself and what he can gain from any situation. Yet, in the final hours he is able to find selflessness and kindness. He is proof people can change and people can surprise you. There are also examples of heart-wrenching acts of compassion and painful choices made to ease others pain. In the worst of times, there are people who are capable of truly extraordinary things.
The film clocks in at just under 90 minutes and wastes little of it’s run time. The sharp screenplay has good momentum that builds at a good pace to its spectacular ending. Phillips does well to carry the film, while Rice is a revelation as plucky young Rose. Perth’s streets are convincingly transformed into something resembling an apocalyptic suburban nightmare, while the stark beauty of the rural landscape surrounding emphasises the hopelessness of the situation. A highlight (or low-point in terms of human decency) is the intense party scene, with the pulsating electronic music and bogan boofheads perfectly representing the average summer music festival in Australia. It’s some of the worst aspects of our culture amplified with a sinister and sickening twist. It’s a disturbing setting and it’s something which has lingered with me since – I actually had trouble sleeping the night I saw it.
I can’t say you’ll enjoy These Final Hours, but it is certainly food for thought. What would you do at the end?
By Sam McCosh
Director: Zak Hilditch
Writer(s): Zak Hilditch
Starring: Angourie Rice, Nathan Phillips, Sarah Snook, Jessica De Gouw
Runtime: 87 minutes
Release date(s): Australia: July 31 2014