The Sloth likes to keep you one cinematic step ahead. We’ve therefore asked our Aussie friends, SaltyPopcorn.com.au, to start bringing you the best of new Australian cinema. Don’t miss out on great titles that might not make it to UK cinemas, stick them on your DVD list instead. Here’s SaltyPopcorns’s editor, Jason King, to kick things off:
REVIEW BY JASON KING from WWW.SALTYPOPCORN.COM.AU
THESE FINAL HOURS is a preapocalyptic piece of joy. Meteors will hit the planet in an extinction level event, everyone will die, the end. Western Australia has about 12hrs left and has mostly come to the acceptance of this. There is no Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck to the rescue with a spiffy Aerosmith soundtrack. There is imminent death and destruction and the end of mankind. These final hours are spent with one guy, James, a normal twenty something party dude (a much hotter version of me in my 20s :).
James is by no means perfect, he has two girlfriends going, one pregnant. He even leaves the pregnant one to go to his other party girl in these 12hrs. He takes drugs, drink drives and does a lot of things someone in this time of their lives does (although drink driving is bad mmmmmkay). But this does not make him a bad person. Given, the drink driving is probably due to impending doom and the fact that most of the planet is in a state of anarchy for the final hours of life. What would you do? James is petrified, he wants to be so messed up he won’t feel a thing, or will overdose prior to the end.
On the way to his “other” girlfriend, James has his awesome car stolen from him and is nearly macheted to an early death. In trying to steal someone else’s car he hears the screams of a kidnapped young girl, Rose, I am thinking maybe 12yrs old. Some dirty, loser pedophiles have kidnapped her and intend to go out in the world off their faces and… (you get it). James’ conscience kicks in and he has to decide: save his ass or do the right thing. And so begins the awakening and salvation of James’ soul. James and Rose form the oddest of couples in a 12hr dash to get Rose to her father and get James to his girlfriend.
This is a wise movie, it doesn’t need Hollywood budgets and huge special effects, it deals with the human condition in a doomed setting. They know they aren’t going to make it, every character you meet is dealing with their own impending death. This makes for an incredible bunch of characters and scenarios. People pray, commit suicide, slaughter, party to death and basically go mental. The visuals of a lady walking down the road with a “god” message painted on her was very striking. The party is incredibly well done, a perfect scenario – the end of days party with no holds barred, everyone off their face, Russian roulette, more drugs than can be imagined, a random shooting – to which 12yr old Rose walks in. What then happens with her there is incredible, I am so glad director Zak Hilditch went there, that would never happen in a U.S. film, but it suited the tone and theme and she got some life experience in her last day (probably not what you are thinking – see the movie, I have given enough plot away!!)
Director Zak Hilditch (Plum Roll, The Toll) gives us an epic disaster film on a budget and brings more character development and real characters to the screen than most. The budget is used to its last lowly dime to wring out a film that looks like it was made for ten times the cost. The sets are used well and the party got a lot of attention. There is the effective use of coloured filters to just make you swelter with the characters, you can feel the Australian heat mixed with the planet about to burn up and you can almost feel the tyres on vehicles and sneaker tread melting into the asphalt.
The acting is superb, cannot fault anyone. Nathan Phillips (as James) will break onto the international market after this. He was slaughtered in the first WOLF CREEK but I am pretty sure he can give Worthington a run for roles after this one. I will say I had one annoyance from him, I know the world is about to end, and the stress levels are high but his forehead is in stress scrunch throughout, like it is paralysed in a knot
James’ bad boy is perfectly complimented with the pure innocence of youth, naivety and cuteness from Angourie Rice’s Rose. What an incredible little actress. She was amazing, one bad thing that stood out – the epic crying scene – so obviously a fake cry. I know this can be hard to film and get out of a child actor but it was noticeable. Also the supporting actors, all brilliant. Dan Henshall was epic – certain scenes from him had me in stitches, I have seen plenty of people like him at festivals, I am just stoked none of them had a gun. Also Kathryn Beck’s Vicky was great, so unlikable you immediately knew she was one of James’ mistakes in life.
I could babble on and on about this film. It is one of the best films from Australia in years, it will hold your attention from go to woe. Brilliant!
Australian DVD release 8 December