film reel image

film reel image

Saturday, March 18, 2023

The Desperate Hour 2021 * * 1/2 Stars


Phillip Noyce directs 2021's The Desperate Hour and his motivation here is to have the audience member fear what they don't see as opposed to the alternative. It's quite the dodge and it makes "Hour" look almost too Hitchcockian for its own good. I mean eventually I wanted to see stuff. 

That's not to say that The Desperate Hour doesn't create a little tension because it does, like dust quickly accumulating on a laptop. Filmed in scenic Ontario, Canada, "Hour" has to do with a HS school shooting and a mother who can't get to her son who's stuck at said school. What comes about makes The Desperate Hour the ultimate cell phone flick, with calls and video feeds and texts and all kinds of other bits and bobs. If this thing was shot in the 80s (when there were no cells), well it would probably cease to exist. 

Naomi Watts plays mother Amy Carr and it's basically a one-woman show for her. In "Hour" (for about an hour), we see Watts running through an endless forest trying to get to her son's terrorized, center of learning. It's an impressive performance that cuts through everything else, raw and timed and unstudied. I mean you can't tell she's really acting. 

But while watching "Hour", I also thought how does Naomi's Amy still have juice left in her portable? And how the heck does she have a perfect signal in what looks like the middle of nowhere? And what's up with the forest giving those unending, Blair Witch vibes? And um, how does she not eventually pass out doing a full-on, 5K? Yeesh. Helmer Noyce films these proceedings at a lingering clip, giving the viewer a gimmick-ed shot of the proverbial "violence of the mind". If only his effect was more compelling and less exhausting. "Last gasp". 

Written by Jesse Burleson

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