The Desperate Hour
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Naomi Watts gravitates though every parent’s worst fear in The Desperate Hour

Philip Noyce directs Naomi Watts in the thriller The Desperate Hour from Vertical Entertainment. A recently widowed mother, Amy Carr (Watts), is doing her best to restore normalcy to the lives of her young daughter and teenage son in their small town. As she’s on a jog in the woods, she finds her town thrown into chaos when a shooting takes place at her son’s school. Miles away on foot in the dense forest, Amy desperately races against time to save her son.


Screenwriter Chris Sparling follows up his 2020 hit, Greenland, with a. return to the suspense genre the filed his first two screenplays, ATM and Buried. Sparling works with director Philip Noyce to create a real-time set storyline. In simplest terms, real-time is a method in which events are portrayed at the same rate at which they occur in the plot. For example, if a movie told in real-time is two hours long, then the story of that movie covers two hours of fictional time.


The routine goes back to 1928’s The Passion of Joan of Arc from a cinematic standpoint. However, it wasn’t until Alfred Hitchcock’s 1948 film version of Patrick Hamilton’s 1929 play Rope that real-time was perfected. Real-time is a complex technique to pull off, and when done right, the results are cinematic eye candy. Films such as Run Lola Run, Gravity, and Crank successfully pulled off real-time. However, Carnage, Silent House, and Cherry Tree Lane couldn’t nail the technique. So, where does The Desperate Hour rank?


Philip Noyce avoids the usual aspects of split screens, and picture-in-picture often found in real-time films to tell his story. Instead, Noyce chooses to casually show shots of Amy’s cellphone that display the length of time it takes her to reach her son’s school either on foot or by Lyft. Naomi Watts fully commits to the plight of Amy as a worried mother. For the most part, the remainder of the cast is limited to voiceovers such as Amy’s family members, 911 operators, and the police. That said, those who enjoyed Ryan Reynold’s performance in Buried should enjoy Watts in this film.


While I don’t think I’ll ever revisit The Desperate Hour, I do hope screenwriter Chris Sparling and director Philip Noyce collaborate again as they have great chemistry.

Final Grade: C+

The Desperate Hour opens in limited theaters today. In addition, the film is also available On Digital and On Demand.

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