Naomi Watts’s school-shooting drama gets lost in the woods

The best thing that can be said about The Desperate Hour is that it must have seemed like a good idea at the time. More specifically, this was September 2020 when the film industry got back to work after six months of lockdown. Productions that required only skeletal cast and crew and outdoor locations were the easiest to get off the ground, and this stripped down thriller from Chris Sparling – whose script for Buried kept Ryan Reynolds trapped in a box for an hour and a half, bless him – all of them box ticked.

The premise, which sends an overworked and recently widowed mother (Naomi Watts) on a supposedly leisurely jog through a scenic forest, arguably shows promise, only to spark a shootout at the school her teenage son (Colton Gobbo) attends she rushes to the rescue while she catches up on the situation in a series of frantic cell phone calls. Think of it as a kind of low-emissions spin on Stephen Knight’s Locke, which featured Tom Hardy driving down the M40 at night while nervously clinging to infidelity and concrete.

Except when you think about it, maybe you don’t think that at all. Locke’s tense and intriguing carphone contretemps were mini-masterclasses in slow-burning revelation, but the conversations in The Desperate Hour are almost all vehicles for plotting: it’s as if a group of unseen characters are watching the real movie happening miles away , and picking him up turns to tell Watts’ Amy Carr what’s going on inside.

Voices on the other end of the line include another mother already in the police line, an employee in the garage across the street from the school who is providing eyewitness accounts, a lost minicab driver, a local police officer, and an ambulance dispatcher seems to have the time and inclination to cheer Amy up with regular pep talks during an active school shooting.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/0/desperate-hour-review-naomi-wattss-school-shooting-drama-gets/ Naomi Watts’s school-shooting drama gets lost in the woods


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