These Final Hours

WRITTEN BY: Zak Hilditch
DIRECTED BY: Zak Hilditch
STARRING: Nathan Phillips, Angourie Rice, Jessica De Gouw, Kathryn Beck
RATING: 3.5 stars

It is refreshing to see an "end of the world" themed film that does not have a hero trying to save the world or sacrificing himself to save Earth. That is a typical Hollywood story. In These Final Hours, the debut feature film of Australian writer/director Zak Hilditch, there is no hope of saving Earth. Everyone is going to die. But that is not what the film is about. It explores how desperate people behave in the most confronting crisis imaginable. The film does not shy away from some horrifying aspects of humanity caught up in the anarchy including kidnapping, murder, suicide, brutality and drugs. There are certainly a couple of plot holes along the way, but they hardly matter. It is an impressive debut feature from the Perth film maker.

These Final Hours opens with the world coming to an end. Europe has well and truly been obliterated and Australia is just hours from being hit. Everyone in Perth seems to be reacting differently. Some are taking their own lives to preempt the horror while others are going on violent rampages and some are just enjoying one last party. James (Nathan Phillips) is afraid of dying and cannot sit idly by the beach with his girlfriend, Zoe (Jessica De Gouw). So he leaves her to go see his friend (Daniel Henshall) who is hosting a rave party. Meanwhile, James's other girlfriend (Kathryn Beck) is under the delusion that perhaps they can survive the apocalypse in a bunker. As James makes the journey to the party, he rescues a young girl named Rose (Angourie Rice) from two kidnappers. James becomes her surrogate guardian and decides to spend his final hours on Earth reuniting the girl with her father.

James is a good anti-hero. He has obvious flaws, including his self-obsession, which he tries to address during the film and ultimately proves to be one of the better people in the world. His character arc is fascinating. Phillips carries the film very well. Rice is also exceptional, providing a few laughs along the way and never falling into the category of being an annoying child. Lynette Curran is impressive as James's mum who had given up on her unreliable son, while Beck has a memorable emotional meltdown.

I highly recommend this film for Perth residents. It is fun seeing your home city being blown up on film. But it also has a wider appeal and has a thought-provoking message about humanity.