These Final Hours is not exactly the first end-of-the-world movie – and it comes not long after a number of films (This Is The End, It’s A Disaster, The World’s End) that parodied the whole concept – but it handles the last moments of Earth with gusto.
While not a comedy like the aforementioned films, it has enough dry humour and moments of heroism to be less dismal than the subject matter would suggest. The way it achieves this balance is especially impressive, as it suggests (logically enough) that society will descend into dark chaos.
The apocalypse in this film is never explained, but it has been accepted for months as the film begins. Most of the world is now dead, as the destructive flame heads inevitably towards Australia.
Sadly, there is not much optimism in this scenario. We have no dashing astronauts to save us (a la Armageddon or Deep Impact), and most people have descended into savagery, homicide, decadence or generally nuttiness (Sarah Snook, star of Predestination, has a smaller but unforgettably chilling role as one of these nutjobs).
Social order has ended, as the only policeman we see prepares to shoot his family and himself to escape the final ball of fire.
The film focuses on James (Nathan Phillips), who plans to spend his last moments at a wild orgy with his alluring girlfriend Vicky (Kathryn Beck). His plans are derailed somewhat when he saves a young girl, Rose (Angourie Rice), from a pair of potential rapists.
This is where we find glimmers of hope. Rose is one of the few characters to remain relatively clear-headed, and this seems contagious. James can’t save the world, but rather than die pleasuring Vicky, he gradually finds a new purpose – just in time.
In less than 12 hours of his life (and the usual 90 minutes of ours), he undergoes the Hero’s Journey. It is a powerful, well-directed, well-acted film, making excellent use of the Outback to portray the apocalypse.
The world might be ending, but there is still life in this well-used idea.