Sunday 20 March 2022

REVIEW: The Desperate Hour (2022) - Starring Naomi Watts

Review by Jon Donnis
Naomi Watts stars as Amy in what is nearly a one-woman film. Directed by Phillip Noyce, The Desperate Hour tells the story of Amy, a mother mourning the death of her Husband. She lives with her kids, a daughter and teenage son Noah, played by Colton Gobbo. Her son is depressed, for obvious reasons, and the film starts off with her trying to get him out of bed to go to school. 

Amy goes on her morning jog, as she is jogging, she is also answering calls, replying to texts, and so on. As she is jogging, a number of police cars pass her on the road, she thinks nothing of it until she gets an emergency alert on her phone.

There is an emergency at the school, someone has a gun and is holding people hostage. Amy is in the middle of the woods, and desperate to know if her kids are ok, her daughter is in elementary school and is ok, but she does not know if her son got to school, after some detective work, she finds out that his truck is there, so he is at the high school, where the situation is unfolding. Is he alive? Is he involved? What is going on?

Amy is desperate to get to the school, but she is a long way out, she calls a taxi but will take a while to get to her, so she keeps on jogging.

Other than the first 5 minutes, about the first hour of the film is centred on the Amy character running alone in the woods, trying to get to the school, but also desperately trying to find out the details of what is going on. Naomi Watts is really excellent, and the fear that any parent might have in such a situation, is conveyed well by Watts, in what is a strong performance.

The film as a whole is short at about 80 minutes, so really does have to rely on Watts' performance to keep the view interested, and she does a good job with that. Also worth noting that the film all takes place in real time.

With such a serious subject, the film has to walk a fine line in the story it tells. And this film centres completely on the emotion of a mother. With so much of the film about her emotions, we don't really see anything of the actual hostage situation, other than a few facetime calls. So, understand this is not a film about a school shooting and hostage situation, but more the reaction of someone hearing about it, the helplessness, the second guessing, and the rollercoaster of emotion along the way.

Luckily in the UK we do not really have issues with school shootings, so I have no issues with the way the story is told, it is not personal to me, so I feel like I can enjoy the performance and story from more of an objective point of view. I can imagine that an American audience may feel differently about the film though.

The Good
A strong performance from Naomi Watts really carries what is a tough story to tell.

The Bad
I think if you are going to go down the route of making one character so important, then you have to go all the way. I wonder if the film could have been made with Watts literally being the only human you saw the whole film? A really tough objective to pull off, but I think one they should have tried, instead they went 90% of the way.

As suspense thrillers go, this does drag the viewer in, mainly through Naomi Watts performance.

I enjoyed the film, and felt the emotion was conveyed well.

I score The Desperate Hour a solid 8/10

Available in the UK on Sky Cinema.
And you can pre-order it at