Hours (2013)

(On Cable TV, December 2014)  When I state that Hours is an intense nightmare all-too-accurately presented as a thriller, you can be sure that I’m saying so as someone who, not too long ago, went through the exhilarating wringer of caring for a newborn.  Becoming a father means an accumulation of fatigue and helplessness that can’t be accurately described to anyone who hasn’t been there, but Hours manages to take the worst of those moments and spin them into a thriller in which things keep getting worse.  Consider a new father, being told that his wife died during childbirth and that his daughter depends on a mechanical respirator.  Consider that same father stuck in a vacated New Orleans hospital in the path of Hurricane Katrina, turning a crank for a mechanical generator every few minutes to keep his daughter alive.  Consider feral dogs, unfriendly thieves, lack of supplies, hunger, fatigue, pain, grief all battering the protagonist until his world become nothing more than a mechanical motion.  Hours may not have much (it’s a low-budget effort with few locations and a handful of characters) but it makes the most out of what it has, and uses the defunct Paul Walker in a career-best role as the new father stuck in an impossible situation.  This is a thriller that grabs viewers by the throat and doesn’t let go until it has exhausted everyone from the dramatic possibilities of the situation.  I don’t think that the film will work as well on non-parents, largely because its thematic and dramatic engines are so closely aligned with one another.  But if you’re likely to be in Hours’ target audience, sit down, relax… and don’t forget to breathe.

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