DVD: Hours (2013)

March 10, 2014 | By

 

Hours2013Film: Good

Transfer: Very Good / Extras: Standard

Label: Lions Gate

Region: 1 (NTSC)

Released:  March 4, 2014

Genre:  Suspense / Drama

Synopsis: After his wife dies during childbirth, a father must stay with his infant daughter, trapped in an evacuated  hospital during Hurricane Katrina.

Special Features:  Charity Promo / Music Video / Digital Copy

 


 

Review:

After writing the scripts for the franchise reboots A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), The Thing (2011), plus Final Destination 5 (2011), Eric Heisserer earned a crack at directing, and his debut is an economical, cleverly produced drama that’s also part disaster film, albeit scaled down to what a singular character sees from inside an abandoned hospital.

Hours begins after Nolan’s wife Abigail (Genesis Rodriguez) is admitted to emergency during the premature birth of their daughter, and moves fast-forward as Nolan (Paul Walker) processes his wife’s death during delivery, and having to slowly bond with the tiny infant he clearly blames for her death.

When Hurricane Katrina hits, the hospital is evacuated, but without a mobile neonatal unit, Nolan stays with his daughter, eventually being the only person left in the building. When the power cuts out and the battery begins to fail, he finds a hand-crank generator, but has to recharge every 3 mins. – a time limit that begins to narrow after his first day in the building.

The exhaustion begins to take its toll, and Nolan desperately uses the paltry window of 2.5 min. to run to the roof and to the hospital’s emergency entrance for help, but he’s ultimately trapped in that small room, rapidly losing his focus and strength as Day Two starts to pass.

A lag in the midsection excepted, Heisserer’s story structure is fine – Nolan begins to recount how he met Abigail to his daughter as a means to stay awake, bond with the infant, and deal with his grief – but the scenes never transcend the familiar, and the flashback material is too idyllic, harmed by the casting of Rodriguez who plays Abigail as a quirky, every-smiling oddball. The arrival of periodic threats – a potentially dangerous dog, armed scavengers – add a little tension, but Heisserer’s dialogue is often flat, and as strong as Paul Walker may be as blue collar Nolan, there isn’t enough background material to distinguish him from a stock disaster film character who’s ‘just tryin’ to survive.’

Hours has some similarities to The Trigger Effect (1996), in which a massive power failure turns neighbours into selfish enemies, and desperation reaches new lows once the lead characters, without food and common conveniences, are down to bare knuckle tactics; in Hours, the stress factor’s isolated to one character, and contrary to the deceptive cover art, one indoor setting. The scores in both films are very stealth, often opting for subdued tones and pulsing motifs which ensure the drama is never upset by an overblown music stab.

Heisserer intercuts actual news updates which give the film a docu-drama approach and contextualize the trajectory of Katrina’s increasingly devastating effects, but it’s a peculiar conceit in that most of the film is presented from Nolan’s limited vantage point – a dark, powerless hospital – yet Heisserer has chosen to give viewers (us) more information than the character, which may have been the wrong choice, since more tension could’ve been extracted by keeping us in the dark as much as the main character.

In spite of Hours being Walker’s third-to-last film (the actor died in November 2013 in a fiery car crash), it seems there was either little interest in preparing a broader home video release, or it washed rushed. Lions Gate’s DVD puts the film and its extras – a promo for Walker’s charity, and a music video (weirdly, presented in mono) – all in a single layer. There’s no Blu-ray release, nor any director commentary or making-of featurette or film festival promos featuring the actors and filmmaker, making this DVD rather perfunctory, and a disappointment to Walker’s fans.

Walker’s remaining films are the Luc Besson-produced Brick Mansions (2014), and the still-incomplete Fast & Furious 7.

 

 

© 2014 Mark R. Hasan

 


 

External References:
IMDB  —  Soundtrack Review — Composer Filmography
 
Vendor Search Links:
Amazon.ca —  Amazon.com —  Amazon.co.uk

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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review, FILM REVIEWS

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