Thursday, May 21, 2015

These Final Hours

2.5/4

Starring: Nathan Phillips, Angourie Rice, Jessica De Gouw, Daniel Henshall, Kathryn Beck, Sarah Snook

Not Rated (Probable R for Language, Strong Sexuality/Graphic Nudity, Drug Use and Some Strong Violence)

Movies about the end of the world fascinate, I think, because they make us ask ourselves what we would do if we knew that we would only have a limited time left on Earth.  Truthfully, we know this, but it's a far different thing to know that the world will end in a week as opposed to just realizing the fact that we are all mortal.

In 24 hours, the world will end.  People are dealing with it in various ways.  James (Phillips) can't stand the pain of this reality, and is determined to spend it partying with his friends.  So after having sex with his friend Zoe (De Gouw), he heads out to a party being thrown by his friend Freddy (Henshall).  On the way, he sees two men carrying a girl screaming for her dad into a house.  Reluctantly, James rescues her and agrees to take her to her dad.

The good thing about this movie is that James is played by Nathan Phillips, the hunky guy in "Wolf Creek."  Despite the fact that he is abandoning the newly pregnant Zoe for his girlfriend Vicky (Beck), Phillips manages to make him into a guy we can get behind.  The bad thing is that for 90% of the movie, he's paired with Angourie Rice.  I always feel bad about trashing the performance of a child actor, but Rose, the character she plays, is annoying.  She's an albatross around his neck and nothing more.  Part of this is due to how the character is written and how Rice is directed, but there's no denying that Rice has little appeal.  I kept waiting for James to ditch her.

I appreciated how writer/director Zak Hilditch doesn't allow his story to get bogged down by bad melodrama.  There's nothing worse than watching a movie with an interesting premise to descend into safe clich├ęs ("The Hunter" is a prime example of this).  Hilditch keeps things focused on how the characters react to their situation, and often times it's not pretty.

While watching this, I kept thinking of "Carriers," the little seen film starring Chris Pine.  They take place at different ends of the apocalypse ("These Final Hours" takes place right beforehand, while "Carriers" takes place after the calamity has happened), but they have a similar appeal.  But while the film by the Pastor brothers was haunting and beautiful, this is more angry and desperate.

The ending of the film is also worth mentioning.  It's effective up until the big moment, when it chooses angst over something more suitable from a storytelling perspective.  There's no reason why one of the characters acts the way they do, and it hurts the film.

Of the two, "Carriers" is the way to go, but "These Final Hours" won't have you wishing for the end credits.

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