Writer-director Zak Hilditch has produced a tension drenched, brutally nihilistic film, peppered with human moments of tenderness and believable character arcs.
Zak Hilditch has given us something special with this pre-apocalyptic end of world frenzy fest. Coming across like the spiritual torch bearer to Mel Gibson’s Mad Max, there are machete wielding maniacs, hedonistic basement orgies and dead bodies littering a ravaged landscape. Sound designer Emma Bortignon injects a ragged indie feel into this visceral descent, by using disjointed musical cues and disturbingly deep bass notes which resonate through you.
Using David Field’s radio broadcaster creates atmosphere, gives us a timeframe and provides context and immediacy, which in turn gives Hilditch more power. Nathan Phillips gives our central protagonist such depth and conflict from the opening frame that he is impossible to leave. Torn between his love and an allegiance to others, you get flashes of a relationship which focus him more as time moves on. Phillips provides such a lo-fi physical urgency to the situation, that you look beyond his coke addled, alcohol imbued defence mechanism to the ‘everyman’ persona which emerges beneath.
Hilditch pulls his second casting coup off by finding Angourice Rice who plays Rose. Rising in stature since filming this to star in Sofia Coppola’s reworking of The Beguiled and tent pole behemoth Spider Man: Homecoming, this is where you first see that talent on screen. Little more than thirteen at this point Rice delivers a performance of care, consideration, maturity and range. It took Dakota Fanning more time to hit her stride and Rice miraculously manages to sidestep any precocious child star pitfalls. In scenes of physical violence, drug induced stupor and measured two hander dialogue, she holds her own against Phillips and our attention throughout. Never descending into cliché, theatricality or simpering doe eyed distraction she remains compelling, understated and honest until those final moments.
For the record Hilditch has produced a tension drenched, brutally nihilistic film, peppered with human moments of tenderness and believable character arcs. He has written and directed something which bends genre conventions and pays homage without resorting to rip off tactics. High octane, selectively gory and unsparing in its depiction of humanity and our ability to regress These Final Hours is a hidden gem. Shot through with a sun baked, claustrophobic colour palette thanks to DP Bonnie Elliott, which over saturates or dulls down according to individual moments.
This is a socially relevant piece of cinema which says as much about people who condone nuclear armament as those who hide in its shadow. It also happens to be superior entertainment woefully overlooked in favour of mediocrity which continues receiving unwarranted attention and seats at the top table.
Written by Martin Carr
Directed by: Zak Hilditch
Written by: Zak Hilditch
Starring: Nathan Phillips, Angourie Rice, Jessica De Gouw
Released: 2013 / Genre: Thriller
Country: Australian / IMDB
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Top 10 Films reviewed These Final Hours on DVD courtesy of The Works Film Group. The film was released on DVD August 8, 2016.