With smaller films I generally like to go in blind. Know nothing or as little as possible and go in with a clean slate. Generally, this makes for a wonderful experience with no expectations. For Risen all I had was a title and a poster with a bad ass looking Roman soldier. Looks like a bit of sword and sandals fun? Far from it!
It’s not often we get a film set and shot here in Perth, let alone one getting such a big, wide release. Every street, sight and location mentioned or seen in this film is instantly recognisable and it draws you in. You instantly relate. This isn’t some far off place; this is the world you live in. For a personal, character driven film like These Final Hours this pays off in spades. Thankfully, while seeing the Perth skyline burning or a giggle at a mention of Roleystone or a scene in Malaga is a fun novelty, this is a damn good film no matter the setting. It’s a truly wonderful debut feature for local filmmaker Zak Hilditch.
The film takes place over the final hours on Earth as the looming apocalypse descends upon us. It’s a forgone conclusion and cannot be stopped. You have 12 hours left, what do you do with it? Rather than focus on the disaster itself and the efforts to stop it, These Final Hours narrows the scope down to one man, James, in the most isolated city on the planet and where he wants to be when it all ends. Instead of watching things happen from the outside you are pulled in close. When the world ends we won’t be on the rocket trying to save it all, we’ll be the insignificant nobody living our last moments as best we can.
Our protagonist wants nothing more than to get to the party to end all parties, lose himself until it’s over and not confront the inevitable end. After a couple of chance encounters he is suddenly responsible for a young girl and getting her back to her family before it’s over. A long the way he’s forced to confront everything he was trying to avoid; his family, his morality and his impending fatherhood that sadly will never have a chance to be. We see how the rest of the nearby humanity deals with the end. Some turn to religion, others go out on their own terms, some descend into depravity and others party, well, like the world is about to end.
While Nathan Philips is our lead and plays the musclebound, idiotic average young Australian male rather well, the film anchors on the performance of young Angourie Rice as Rose. She delivers a mature, confident performance beyond her years. In a film so devastating, brutal and bleak this young revelation never looks out of her depth. Technically These Final Hours shines, especially considering the low budget at Hilditch’s disposal. Perth’s suburbia is suitably eerie and the cinematography is on point with the increasingly orange hue of impending doom (which comes to a spectacular budget burning head in the final scenes)
It’s desperately bleak and confronting. As the wave of destruction hits and the credit rolls the crowd in my screening sat in silence. Contemplating where they would be and what they would do in those final moments.
Hunger Games was a massive, unexpected hit. It seemed everyone was adapting popular book series looking for the next Twilight. Hunger Games is the new Twilight in terms of fan base and popularity. Thankfully, unlike Twilight, it wasn’t completely horrible and insulting to our intelligence. The movie also made Jennifer Lawrence a bona fide star which we can all be even more thankful for.
Anyways, does this sequel surpass the original? Easily.