17th Aug2015

Frightfest 2015: ‘These Final Hours’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Nathan Phillips, Angourie Rice, Jessica de Gouw, Kathryn Beck, Daniel Henshall, Sarah Snook, Lynette Curran | Written and Directed by Zak Hilditch


Another “the end of the world is nigh” film – these things seem to crop up every few years or so – These Final Hours is literally that: a look at the final hours of the planet, as seen throught the eyes of people in Australia’s coastal city of Perth. You see the fiery effects of a crash-landed asteroid are making their way, tsunami-style, across the planet and heading for their last devastating stop – Australia. Of course that can only mean one of three things: People throw end of the world parties. Go horrendously crazy while waiting to die. Or, as in the case of this films protagonist, find redemption where they least expect it…

Horror cinema from down-under has had something of a resurgance in recent years – and nowhere has that been more visible than at Frightfest. From the likes of Wolf Creek, The Loved Ones and I Survived a Zombie Holocaust screening in London, to the Patrick remake at the Frightfest All-Nighter, to Wyrmwood (probably THE best movie from that part of the globe in the past decade) showing in Glasgow earlier this year, Ozploitation – be it from New Zealand or mainland Australia – is most definitely back in full swing!

One thing that marks all of those productions is the over-the-top nature of the films. Be it the ultra-violence, the OTT special effects, even over-the-top performances from the actors involved. Which makes These Final Hours the very antithesis of those movies. In fact it shares more in common with early movies of the Australian New Wave like Picnic at Hanging Rock, Walkabout and Wake in Fright, rather than your typical “Ozploitation” movies.

Filled with familiar faces from Aussie soaps and movies, These Final Hours is a refreshing new take on the typical apocalyptic flick. Not only are we experiencing the countdown to the apocalypse rather than the aftermath but unlike many a post-apocalyptic movie, there is no saviour of the human race, there is no hope. There is only the end and what you do with the time – in this case 12 hours – left. Of course telling the story of a global catastrophe, even on the scale of its effect on one city, would be too much to follow, so writer/director Zak Hilditch boils his tale down to the story of one man, James, as played by Nathan Phillips – who many will remember from Neighbours back in the late 90s and who also appeared in the highly-regarded Aussie horror Wolf Creek.

It James that carries this tale – we follow his relationships with the TWO women in his life and, more  importantly, his relationship with his young charge, Rose, whom he discovers walking the abandoned streets of Perth. Saving her from probable death at the hands of those that have seemingly turned savage at the news their death is imminent, James makes it his quest to return her to her family. And when he does? Well lets just say that scene – that oh-so-powerful scene – as James drives away leaving Rose behind, well that tugged at the heart strings (and tear ducts) of even this hardened horror fan. It’s a testament to all those involved: actors, DP, writer and director et al., that these small moments of emotion, scattered throughout the film, strike such an emotional chord with the audience. Making These Final Hours probably the most poignant, heart-warming, life-affirming (pre or post) apocalypse flick you’re ever likely to see.

**** 4/5

As powerful and moving as the superb post-apocalyptic film What’s Left of Us (another Frightfest favourite), These Final Hours has it’s UK Premiere at London’s Film4 Frightfest on Sunday August 30th at 12.50pm in Discovery Screen 1.


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