“Life is stronger than death,” states one of the characters from writer/director Zak Hilditch’s end of the world movie These Final Hours, but as a meteor has hit the Earth, and all life will be soon extinguished, that may be a nice sentiment but not all that accurate.
There is no shortage of apocalyptic films dealing with man’s last moments, from the nuclear holocaust of On the Beach to similar a meteor threat in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, filmmakers have been exploring man’s reactions to instant mortality. This movie takes place in Australia, which is no stranger to apocalyptic mayhem but this film is on a much lower budget than say Mad Max: Fury Road. This story follows the adventures of James (Nathan Phillips), a drug-using wastrel, as he tries to decide what to do with his last moments on Earth. We first see him having passionate sex with his lover Zoe (Jessica De Guow), which wouldn’t be out of place on anyone’s bucket list, but though he loves her and even learns that she is pregnant with his child, he ditches her to run off and find his current girlfriend Vicki (Kathryn Beck). This certainly makes our protagonist hard to sympathize with and is not helped by his reasoning of “I don’t want to feel a thing. I just want to get fucked up.” Of course, this is a story about redemption, so we will join James on his journey of self-discovery.
James wants to make it to the home of Vicki’s brother Freddy (Daniel Henshall) where the “Party to End all Parties” is taking place. There he plans to hook up with Vicki and ride out the firestorm in a drug and sex-infused stupor. As plans go I’ve heard worse. Unfortunately, James has a few bumps along the way with the first being losing his car to a machete-wielding lunatic, but it’s while looking for another vehicle he comes across this film’s other main character, a young girl by the name of Rose (Angourie Rice). James spots two pedophiles dragging a screaming girl out of their van, and at first, it looks like James is just going to steal the van, and to hell with the poor child, but even such a self-centred asshole cannot ignore the screams of a child in distress, so he rescues her.
The key problem with this story of redemption is the whole “What’s the point?” It’s great that James eventually does try and do the right thing, but unless he is trying to earn points for the rapture it fails to make much impact. What does work in this movie is how awesome Angourie Rice is as Rose, she has more dramatic chops than many Oscar contenders I’ve seen. There is a great scene where while at the home of Freddie, during his end of the world orgy, Rose encounters a deranged woman (Sarah Snook) who thinks Rose is her lost little girl. Rose agrees to take a pill (that turns out to be ecstasy) if this woman will help her find her dad. Something James has so far failed to do. Rose is that desperate.
James eventually does come to terms with the situation and decides to help Rose, and we do get several nice moments where he isn’t being a self-obsessed asshole, but once again it’s the end of the world so not being a jerk for twelve hours shouldn’t be that hard. There isn’t much originality to be found here, but there are some nice dramatic turns by the cast and even a few surprises. On what is obviously a fairly low-budget writer/director Zak Hilditch manages to convincingly portray society during its final hours, and though this isn’t a great movie if you spot it on Netflix or On Demand give it a look, if only for Angourie Rice’s performance.
These Final Hours (2013)
These Final Hours tries to be a thought provoking film on how a person would act when they know the end is coming, but we’ve pretty much seen all this before and writer/director Zak Hilditch doesn’t bring much new to the table. A decent if flawed effort that is saved by young actress Angourie Rice’s great work.