Post-apocalyptic films like I Am Legend and the upcoming Dawn of the Planet of the Apes can cause the imagination to wander and consider what life might be like on a planet that has been taken over by other forms of life. But in the upcoming Australian thriller These Final Hours, the thought of survivability is rendered moot, and the question becomes, “What would you do on the last day on Earth?” It’s a solid tagline and a head-thumping question all at the same time. Roadside Pictures, who nabbed U.S. distribution rights for the film, has released a powerful first trailer, and I think I might just stay inside for the rest of the day. Not that it’s any different from what I do normally…
The latest feature from director/screenwriter Zak Hilditch (The Toll), These Final Hours starts off 12 hours before some kind of giant catastrophe will occur that will end the life of everything on the planet, if not the entire world itself. The first 20 seconds of the trailer make it look like it’s the shock wave of a meteor or asteroid crashing in the Atlantic Ocean. I don’t really think that’s scientifically sound, but I’m willing to suspend my disbelief for a well-told story.
The story centers on James (Nathan Phillips), a selfish guy whose last-day plans include traveling to a gigantic “end of the world” party. If I didn’t have a family, that’s exactly the kind of thing I would be doing to celebrate/mourn my feeble existence. But James runs into a bit of a problem when he saves the life of a young girl named Rose (Angourie Rice) who is trying to find her father. And with that, James’ soon-to-be-expired life takes on a new meaning as he is forced to accept a responsibility that he’d never known before. Plus, you know, that whole apocalypse thing.
This sounds somewhat like Lorene Scafaria’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World smashed into Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia, and early reviews of the film have me thinking it might be better than either of those films. Having premiered at last year’s Melbourne International Film Festival, the film took home the Age Critic’s award for best Australian feature. Hilditch created the short film Transmission as a companion piece, and it went on to win the Best Screenplay in a Short Film at Australia’s AACTA Awards — their version of the Oscars — while also netting a nomination for Best Short Fiction Film.
The trailer looks great, with all its muted colors and beautiful locations. And while I’m not all that keen on thrillers with children in lead roles, Rice looks mature beyond her years and I’m intrigued by this story. Also starring Sarah Snook, Jessica De Gouw, and Daniel Henshall, These Final Hours will be released in Australia this June, but Roadshow hasn’t yet put out a street date for American audiences. Chances are we’ll be forced to catch it on VOD, assuming Earth holds out that long.