Actors: Sarah Snook, Nathan Phillips, Daniel Henshall, David Field
Director: Zak Hilditch
Format: Blu-ray, Widescreen
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Well Go USA
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Run Time: 87 minutes
These Final Hours is a small Australian pre-apocalyptic thriller with a plot that sounds similar to dozens of movies with much higher budgets. Just reading the film’s description made me feel as though I had already watched it, and anticipated no surprises in its viewing. While I was correct in assuming that the plot would be fairly predictable, the surprise came in how engaged I became with this slightly derivative narrative, mostly due to the strengths in its leading performers and a capable director.
With the end of Earth imminent due to an impending meteor impact, the whole planet has 12 hours to prepare for the end. James (Nathan Phillips) has plans to go to meet his girlfriend at a large end-of-the-world party, but first he must leave the girl he is cheating on her with. These actions make it quite clear from the beginning that James is not a completely admirable character, but the more we see of the lawless society, the better he seems. What I found most surprising amidst the onslaught of despicable characters we are exposed to throughout the film’s running time was the filmmaker’s unwillingness to permit respite from the despair. A faithful or holy character praying in anticipation of the apocalypse might have been an understandable type to see, but this movie does not offer anything so gentle.
In this film there are two types, despite a lack of religious discussion within the narrative; sinful and innocent. Only James manages to slide somewhere between the two, and that comes after he has an encounter with an innocent young girl named Rose (Angourie Rice). After saving her from a horrendous pair of pedophiles, James agrees to help Rose find her father. This leads to a series of contrived situations which allow James the opportunity to become a better person in his final hours, rather than falling into an intoxicated and sinful mess.
It was a bit more bleak than I was expecting, even for a film about the end of the world, and I was always aware that there was little new within the film’s plot, but somehow These Final Hours remains captivating to the last frame. Some of this is just the impressive ability writer/director Zak Hilditch has to use suspense as a distraction from the budget. He also pulled convincing performances from all of his actors, which is a feat that elevates the movie beyond what the material deserves.
The Blu-ray doesn’t have special features and though the film is fairly well shot, most of this film doesn’t demand a high definition presentation. Still, there are a few moments which are enhanced, even if it is only the DTS-HD Master audio.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7.5/10
Historical Significance: 3.5/10