Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
These Final Hours: Australia Dies Last
has mainly gone through life as a surly, self-absorbed slacker, but he is
turning over a new leaf. Frankly, his efforts to reform his worthless life come
in just under the wire. However, they still count for a lot in Zak Hilditch’s
doomsday drama, These Final Hours (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
comet or whatever it was originally impacted in the North Atlantic. Western
Europe was wiped out first and New York soon followed. We were probably
fortunate in that respect. The apocalyptic shockwaves rippling across the globe
will reach Western Australia last, giving the citizens of Perth enough time to
anticipate the wrath about to hit them. They will deal with it in very
immature James is determined to meet his end in a state of debauched delirium,
so he leaves the lover he is with to join his even shallower girlfriend at a
hedonistic end of the world party. In doing so, he fully realizes he is leaving
the woman he always should have been with, in favor of the profoundly wrong
one. Yet, fate intervenes when he observes two pedophiles abducting a young
girl. Even after saving Rose, he is uncomfortable playing the role of her protector,
but he eventually agrees to escort her to the aunt’s home where she hopes to
meet up with her father. Of course, this trip becomes increasingly perilous,
considering the end is nigh.
is no doubt this particular apocalypse is a complete downer in every respect. Hilditch’s
screenplay is nothing like cult favorite Night
of the Comet, in which the end of the world was a total blast. Despite
being a somewhat genre-ish film, TFH is
emotionally heavy and deeply resonate. Yet, in a strange way it makes a hopeful
statement, arguing redemption is still possible up until the very point we are
engulfed in continent-buckling fireballs.
Phillips has kicked around for a while doing Australia TV and movies (such as
the original Wolf Creek) and the odd
Hollywood gig, but his work in TFH is
next-level worthy. He convincingly establishes all of James’ considerable
personality flaws, but he soon takes us to some genuinely raw and cathartic
places. For the most part, Angourie Rice is respectable child thespian, but the
character of Rose is problematically passive at times, like a garden variety
horror movie child-in-jeopardy. On the other hand, Lynette Curran’s scenes with
Phillips as James’ semi-estranged mother pack a real punch.
This is sort of film that does the little things
right, such as the unseen David Field, who sets the perfect tone with some of
the best voiceovers of the year as the intrepid radio broadcaster. Hilditch and
his SFX team also pull off a fitting finale that feels appropriately
all-encompassing without looking excessively 1990s Roland Emmerichian. This is
a very well-crafted film that should generate positive attention for all
involved, but you might want to follow it up with something more upbeat, like Comet. Recommended for fans of
apocalyptic cinema, These Final Days opens
this Friday (3/6) in New York, at the Village East.
Labels: Apocalyptic cinema, Australian cinema