Saturday, November 15, 2014

Film Review: These Final Hours

Copyright: These Final Hours
These Final Hours is a film that has the amazing power, for me at least, to anchor the viewer emotionally in its characters. As a doomsday tale, it delivers its punch to a very brittle place, where all the regrets and wrong decision slowly eat at people. When it is all finally over, there isn’t a chance to fix any of it, simply because the time left is measured in hours, not days or months. For James, the main character, there is only the possibility of decency in an environment that gave up on everything that doesn’t produce gratification in the next minute.

After all, in the film’s setting, everyone on planet Earth will be dead before the day ends.

A meteor hits the Atlantic Ocean, and it is one of the class of world killers. A shockwave of utter annihilation is heading across the globe, destroying everything in its path. No one can hide, nor run. The inhabitants of Australia got lucky in the sense that they get to receive it last, and can decide what they want to do with those final hours, at least those who don’t lose that chance to random violence that ravages the suddenly lawless world. James only wants to get to a party, where he can drink and do drugs unit he doesn’t feel anything. He leaves his pregnant mistress to link up with his regular girlfriend on the event, broken and beyond hope. But, on his path, he rescues a young girl named Rose, who only wants to get to her aunt.

Director Zak Hilditch produces his first important decision by placing the film in a regular setting of a suburban Australian city. The film wasn’t aiming for Mad Max scenes or any other post-apocalyptic fantasy that is well developed – it just shows deserted streets, filled with craziness, desperation and nihilism. The sun shines beautifully in every shot, while the nature, homes and buildings that surround the characters seem cheerful and normal. Only their insides, like the insides of the minds of the people, are torn apart by the guaranteed prospect of death. 

The second smart move by Hilditch was the focus on unexpected emotions that show up regularly. James is angry and full of doubts, but also at a total loss when it comes to the question of his future and very immediate actions. Rose isn’t screaming or being terrified all the time, as one would expect from a child. Others, even sadistic predators, are shown as lost and full of uncertainty, even though for the first time in everyone’s life, all uncertainty is truly gone. People in the film are mostly confused and passive, and I found that both refreshing and realistic.

But, These Final Hours definitely enters its zenith in the last third of the film, when the action dies down, and the characters come into full prominence. In those moments, the unseen narrator on the radio in James’s vehicles, his relation with Rose, mistress and even his mom all bind together with the inevitable, upcoming death. In those final minutes, These Final Hours really shines just as much as the wall of endless fire that brings about the final end.