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Thursday, July 24, 2014
Review: These Final Hours (Zak Hilditch, 2014)
After exiting the Sydney Premiere of Zak Hilditch’s These Final Hours, which has been on the festival circuit since the Melbourne International Film Festival last year (including a place in the Director’s Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival this year) I was overwhelmed by somewhat volatile emotion. It is difficult to explain, because my first reaction to the film was not a positive one. While the film never ceases to be compelling, I had issues with some of the filmmaking, there were continuity problems and an ending shot we have seen in another film this year. On top of that I didn’t particularly enjoy the experience. The anxiety and anger that took over me resulted in me attacking, as a reflex, some elements of the film that I didn’t care for. Without much justification. This confusing emotion subsided later in the night, as I thought more about the film, and I began to realize that this sort of strong reaction is rare. I had to figure out what it all meant.
These Final Hours is an audacious and authentic apocalyptic thriller, but it also manages to be distinctly ‘Australian’ and connects with the audience on a personal level, whether you relate to these characters or not. Their behaviour is concerningly plausible, and Hilditch has absolutely nailed the details of suburban mayhem that would ensue. This is a provocative film in that it says things about the ugliness of humanity that we don’t think about day-to-day, but we know is true. The scariest thing about this sort of situation is not so much the ‘threat’, but the hysteria and unpredictability of others.