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Film / These Final Hours

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These Final Hours is a 2014 Australian film directed by Zak Hilditch. It's The End of the World as We Know It and a wall of fire will engulf the city of Perth in approximately 12 hours. James (Nathan Phillips; Wolf Creek, Neighbours, Snakes on a Plane) is a carefree party guy making his way across the outer suburbs to an "end of the world" party hosted by his mate Freddy (Daniel Henshall; Snowtown) when he suddenly decides to rescue a little girl named Rose (Angourie Rice) who is desperately searching for her father. After some initial hesitation, James decides to help her out on his way to the party and in doing so is forced to consider what is really important in his final moments.

The film premiered at the Melbourne International Film Festival, was selected as part of the Directors' Fortnight section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, was picked up for distribution by Village Roadshow and released in Australian cinemas on July 31, 2014.

This film provides examples of:

  • All for Nothing: After all the trouble, James eventually gets Rose to Aunt Janice's house. All of Rose's relatives, including her dad, managed to reach the place... and committed a group suicide. Still subverted in that, thanks to James, she still gets to be with her dad when the end comes, and she inspires him to go back to Zoe to do the same.
  • All There in the Manual: A series of short videos were released in the leadup to the film's release, providing the background information that an asteroid was on a collision course with Earth, giving 6 months of prior warning, and hinting at the breakdown of civilization and basic services.
    • It's also why James has to spend a significant amount of time trying to find petrol, as service stations are highly unlikely to be still operating. He resorts to taking jerry cans from his mother's shed to complete his journey to Roleystone.
  • Anachronic Order: The framing device of James talking with Zoe is outside the actual continuity of the film, yet it keeps intersecting with the story. And they are themselves out of order.
  • Anti-Nihilist: The impending end of the world has turned many into straight nihilism, since both they and their victims will be ash in a few hours, they have little reason not to resort to rape, murder and suicide. James, however, takes the opposite tack, ultimately deciding to spend his remaining time trying to do something good, even if the consequences won't last past the end of the day.
  • Apocalypse Anarchy: Society has completely collapsed and most of the members of the population, that haven't already killed themselves, are either getting blind drunk or killing each other.
  • The Apocalypse Brings Out the Best in People: Or at least it does so in case of James, who has absolutely no reason or even initial desire to do any of the deeds he pulls, other than being deep down a good man that had to face the absolute end of everything to find that man in himself.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 6 — the asteroid impact is implied to destroy all life on Earth (Rose mentions her dad describing the Earth being "peeled like an orange" and later on in Freddy's panic room James tells Vicky that the room is pointless since it's not buried deep enough for anyone to survive).
  • Apocalyptic Log: The radio man acts as this, as well as Mr. Exposition.
  • Asshole Victim: The two kidnappers/rapists that James killed to rescue Rose. The second one only buys himself a few seconds longer than his friend, but seals his fate anyway.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: James is clearly The Un Favourite and treats his own mother pretty badly... but when it comes to the pinch, they both share a good laugh about their predicament and show clear signs of affection.
    • Same goes, in the end, for James and Zoe.
  • Ax-Crazy: James's friend and gun-wielding party host Freddy. At the beginning of the film he encounters a machete wielding lunatic that briefly takes him hostage, and he narrowly manages to escape when the lunatic gets distracted and runs off.
  • Badass Normal: James managing to take out Rose's kidnappers despite being outnumbered and outmatched with only a hammer is nothing short of awesome.
    • And that's not even mentioning his Determinator moment at the end. His car breaks down, the wall of fire is advancing fast and he has literally minutes to make amends with Zoe. He runs to the beach house and makes it just in time.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: A substantial amount of people opt to die on their own terms rather than wait for the inferno to catch up to them. Some fear it may be extremely painful so would rather make it clean and quick, whilst others can't stand the waiting.
  • Brick Joke: Rose agrees to accompany James to the party if he promises to find her someone that can take her to her Aunt Janice's house, where her Dad said to meet her. During the party, Rose remarks that she doesn't think that anyone at the party will be willing to take her there.
  • The Cameo: End of Fashion frontman Justin Burford makes a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance at Freddy's party.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: James's original girlfriend Vicky.
  • Colony Drop: The asteroid has already collided with Earth, while the opening describes which parts of the planet are already gone. The film focuses on humanity’s final 12 hours, with Australia being one of the last places the firewall will reach.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: When they first arrive at the party, Rose is obviously disturbed by the ongoing Russian Roulette and regular gunshot sounds. But eventually, it becomes just a literal background noise for her.
  • Death of a Child: Of course, since the world is ending and everyone will die, that includes children, due to either violence (like what those kidnappers would have done to Rose if James hadn’t rescued her), being given a Mercy Kill by their parents, or just the end playing itself out.
  • Despair Event Horizon: With the knowledge that the world is being scorched away and this is truly the end of everything, nearly everyone has given up hope of any salvation. Even those who haven't are acutely aware that any heroic actions won't matter when the fire wall finally arrives.
  • Disaster Movie: After a meteor strikes the Earth, the impact sends a wall of fire that burns everything in its path away, and there's absolutely no escape. By the time the movie starts, there's only 12 hours left before the fire wall arrives and scorches Perth away as well. Naturally the people of Perth do just about anything they want in light of this, from offing themselves early to partying their hearts out to turning on their fellow man. In the midst of this is James, who is initially concerned with just partying himself, but can't bring himself to leave a child in the hands of some rapists.
  • Downer Ending: Rose finally reaches her aunt's house, and her whole family made it there too, but they all killed themselves before she arrived. She decides to remain behind with her father's body. James eventually goes back to Zoe at the beach house from the beginning and they stand on the beach together as the wall of fire rushes towards them. And implicitly, everyone else dies when the wall of fire completely engulfs the Earth.
  • Driven to Suicide: Many people, both implicitly and explicitly (one person is shown hanging from a street lamp with "SORRY HAD TO LEAVE" scrawled on a house behind it), seem to have taken this route, including James's sister.
  • Drop the Hammer: How James kills Roses's kidnappers. Count as Hoist by His Own Petard as well, as the hammer was found in the passenger seat's legspace, implying it belonged to them.
  • "End Is Nigh" Ending: James spent the last 12 hours before the blast wave from an asteroid that fell on Earth hits his hometown Perth, and the whole world is consumed, to save Rose and to consider what is really important in his final moments.
  • "Everyone Dies" Ending: There are no survivors.
  • Face Death with Dignity: While some opt for suicide, violence or bacchanalia, James's mother opts to drink some wine and finish some puzzles. James and Zoe stand at the beach quite literally facing oblivion head on. Zoe even comments that the inferno racing toward them is beautiful.
  • Fade to White: The final shot of the film ends with this.
  • Foregone Conclusion: It's established right at the start of the film that the entire planet is doomed. There's no miracles that save humanity, no space organization trying to divert the asteroid's course, it's the world passing the Despair Event Horizon, the only thing they can do is make their final hours count.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The audience is only briefly shown a shot of James's sister and her husband slumped dead in the shower.
  • Gorn: The victim of a machete-wielding madman that hijacks James's car in the beginning of the film.
    • The second of Rose's kidnappers.
    • The "loser" of the Russian Roulette game at Freddy's party.
  • Hope Spot: A weak one, in the form of the bomb shelter. This is more of an example in-universe than for the viewer, as the protagonist rapidly shoots down the idea that it will be any help.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Initially seems to be the film's core message. Apparently, people have decided that with the destruction of the world fast approaching, they're better off without morals, and end up doing most of the work for the asteroid. Subverted in that James becomes a better person after some Character Development, and unlike the majority of the human race at that point, can't find it in him to abandon his morals.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: A police officer approaches James in a library and asks him to shoot him and his family in the library's playroom rather than be killed by the encroaching fireball. When James refuses, the man begs James to forgive him for having to do it himself.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: James routinely turns to the bottle whenever facing something fucked up. Most notably, he raids his sister's cabinet after finding bodies of her and her husband after they've already killed and buried their three girls. He frantically drinks for as long as he can hold his breath.
  • I Wished You Were Dead: Rose reveals she did this to a bully who died of leukemia the year before, making her think she’ll go to hell after the asteroid strike.
  • If I Can't Have You…: When James voices his intent to leave the party (and her) Vicky threatens to kill him and then herself if she ever sees him again. However, she does allow him to leave after taking Freddy's gun and shooting the crazed mother that wanted to keep Rose.
  • Jerkass Façade: Vicky is scared shitless of dying, along with the impending apocalypse. And thus everything she does is to dull the reality and feel less awful about dying in the next few hours.
  • Just Before the End: 12 hours before the end, to be specific.
  • Lack of Empathy: Various characters, given the ongoing Apocalypse Anarchy. But nothing tops Vicky, who just asks James to simply try fuck her anyway after he tearfully tells her about finding his sister and all of her family dead in a group suicide and clearly being in a dark place at the moment himself.
  • The Last Dance: Those that haven't decided on suicide or violence (e.g. everyone at Freddy's party).
  • Mama Bear: Discussed briefly:
    James' Mom: Who you trying to impress? Running around, trying to help this girl...
    James: I'm just trying to help her, Mum. If you can't understand that, then that's your problem.
    James' Mom: Well, maybe I can't understand. I'm just your stupid mother. What would I know?
  • Metaphorically True: When James talks with his mother about his sister, it appears that he will break the news about her suicide... until he stops himself and just tells his mom about a note they left about "being gone".
  • Morality Pet: Rose is this to James. James originally planned to just party until the end of the world before he rescued Rose.
  • Mushroom Samba: Rose goes on a brief one after she takes an ecstasy tablet given to her by a crazed woman who thinks she's her daughter Mandy.
  • Pater Familicide: Many parents, including James’s sister and brother-in-law, having realised there’s no chance of surviving the global firestorm, kill first their kids, and then themselves, to avoid a far more brutal death.
  • Pet the Dog: James saves Rose from a couple of pedophiles. Later on, James' girlfriend, Vicky, shoots the crazed mother who tricked Rose into taking some unnamed drug, allowing her and James to leave the party.
  • Prayer Is a Last Resort: A group of people on a suburban street corner are shown praying.
  • Rape as Drama: It's implied that this is what Rose's kidnappers intended to do to her. The second one all but confirms it when he tries to tell James that there's enough of Rose to share, and James just beats his head in with a hammer in reply.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The two men that kidnapped Rose clearly planned to rape her, making James unable to stomach it all and bail in their van while they are "busy". To make it even worse, one of them offered James his share rather than fight him. Rose is 10. James just wordlessly hammers his brain in.
  • Replacement Goldfish: The crazed mother at Freddy's party insists on calling her "her Mandy" (and is even listed in the credits as "Mandy's Mum").
    • Rose is possibly this to James as well, as Zoe informs him at the beginning of the film that she is pregnant with his child.
  • Road Trip Plot: Mixed with Disaster Movie. A large portion of the film concerns James's (ultimately successful) attempt to get to Freddy's party.
    • Assuming the starting point is Capricorn Beach in Perth's north, James's route includes Malaga (north-eastern suburb of Perth) and Roleystone (an eastern suburb) before returning to Capricorn Beach at the end. He drove at least 250 kilometres for the day. Fortunately with no traffic.
  • Russian Roulette: Played as a party game at Freddy's big party.
  • Silent Credits: There is no music playing over the entire length of the end credits.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: At first glance, it's very far on the cynical side. The movie goes out of its way to insinuate that inherently, Humans Are Bastards, and when the world is about to cave in, they'll abandon any of the morals they created for themselves and get high, rape, fuck, and kill as they please. However, the main focus of the movie is not so much The End of the World as We Know It as it is the story of a hedonistic and mostly unlikable man who finds redemption at the end, which shows hints of idealism.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Humanity will be extinct in 12 hours. There is no tomorrow and no consequences. How do you spend your last moments on earth? Much to his frustration it turns out James has too much of a conscience to abandon Rose or Zoe and go out partying as he intended.
  • World-Wrecking Wave: The wall of fire produced by the asteroid impact. It's already engulfed much of the world, and 12 hours remain before it takes out Australia too.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Given the total collapse of social order and morality that accompanies certain doom, this is almost inevitable, as demonstrated by the thugs who abduct Rose. On the more sympathetic side, parents with young children generally decide that a quick death is the only thing they can offer their kids. James' sister and brother-in-law are heavily implied to have done this already, and the couple in the library are planning to.
  • You Are Too Late: James and Rose arrive at Aunt Janice's to find everybody's already committed suicide.

"Maybe it's little more than hope, or maybe we'll see each other again.
Well, wouldn't that be something?
Wouldn't that be something?"