The American comedian Steven Wright once joked that a woman once asked him if he’d want to know the exact second he was going to die. When he replied no she said “Oh, forget it then.”
This new British film from D. James Newton, making his directorial debut, addresses this same theme of knowing exactly when your appointment with the reaper is and how one might deal with such knowledge. Rebellious teenager Tim (Harry Jarvis) has been distant from his mother (Kirsty Dillon) and sister (Fabienne Piolini-Castle) since the death of his father. He spends most of his time with his friends Victoria (Ella-Rae Smith) and Alf (Alhaji Fofana). He also has a small monster that lives in a box with cyrillic writing on it, though this is never explained.
Keith Allen plays Groad, a failing businessman who has put all his hope (and remaining money) into the ‘Vitalotron’, a revolutionary new scientific device that can predict the moment of a specimen’s eventual death, based on dozens of parameters. When Tim stumbles upon the device while skipping school he tries it for himself, only to find, to his horror, that he only has two hours to live.
Tim and his friends aren’t sure how seriously to take the machine’s grim prognosis. Nonetheless, they decide to draw up a short bucket list and try to cross off its objectives in the brief time before he potentially expires. Meanwhile, two hapless journalists (Marek Larwood & Seann Walsh) are sent by Groad to track Tim down and bring him back the lab to see if the machine is right, and therefore, if he is going to be rich.
The film feels like an extended episode of an after-school tv show. The writing is amateurish, with only the occasional half-funny gag stopping it from being outright awful. Attempts are made at turning the hammy plot into a meditation on mortality and making the best of your time on this Earth, whatever its duration, but it can’t rise above its own mediocrity.
The cast is good and they do the best they can with the poorly written and corny screenplay. Newton’s direction is solid and even stylish at times, making the best of a limited budget. However, whatever good points the film has, they are overwhelmed by the general cheapness and irrevelance of the whole thing. Whatever the length of your remaining lifespan, one good way of enrich it is to avoid this.
Dir: D. James Newton
Scr: Roland Moore
Cast: Harry Jarvis, Ella-Rae Smith, Alhaji Fofana, Keith Allen, Seann Walsh
Prd: Andromeda Godfrey, Diana Juhr-De Benedetti, D. James Newton
DOP: Sara Deane
Runtime: 85 mins
2:HRS is released on VOD 30th July 2018