THE DESPERATE HOUR is a new thriller starring Naomi Watts. The storyline unfolds in real-time and has a school shooting at the center of its plot. Ultimately, the second half lets it down. Read our full The Desperate Hour movie review here!

THE DESPERATE HOUR is a new thriller happening in real-time. The film stars Naomi Watts in the all-important lead role. In fact, for most of the movie, she is the only person on screen. She interacts with other people via a cellphone, so there are voice actors involved all along.


Be sure to check out the Apple TV+ series Calls which is all voice acting and no actors shown >

Continue reading our The Desperate Hour movie review below.

Naomi Watts is amazing in this!

While watching the first act of The Desperate Hour, I was completely enthralled. Naomi Watts (Boss Level) does an excellent job. As already mentioned, she is alone on the screen for most of the runtime. However, unlike a movie such as Cast Away (2000) starring Tom Hanks, she isn’t alone.

Instead, she interacts with quite a lot of other people. Very much along the lines of a movie such as Buried (2010) starring Ryan Reynolds. Incidentally, these two movies are written by the same screenwriter, so you know he can work this angle.

Also, The Guilty is another movie very easily compared to the style of The Desperate Hour. In that movie, a remake of a Danish film, we see a 9-1-1 operator talking to various people while almost entirely staying at the call center.


Check out our review of The Guilty on Netflix starring Jake Gyllenhaal >

In The Desperate Hour, the storyline are unfolding in real-time. Also, the storyline was perfect for shooting while battling lockdown and restrictions, since Naomi Watts is running around in the woods with no one in close proximity for most of the runtime.

She does, however, have brilliant actors in the movie with her. Most of them only by way of being a voice on the other end of a telephone call. There are many key voice actors in The Desperate Hour and we’ve included the names of many in the final part of this review.

The Desperate Hour (2021) – Review | Naomi Watts Thriller

A very strong opening

While this real-time storyline angle works perfectly for the opening of The Desperate Hour, it does begin to wear out a bit. Not due to Naomi Watts or the core plot. Instead, it’s because things in the storyline go from being relatable and organic to feeling rather forced.

I can’t say that things couldn’t possibly happen this way. However, it just all feels a bit too crazy at times.

The fact that this revolves around a school shooting is bound to irritate some viewers. Either because they can’t stand to watch and experience this, due to it hitting too close to home. Or because they consider it “woke”. Something that seems to be thrown around at every turn these days.

Every horror movie is accused of being “woke” in some way. Sometimes in understandable ways, but often not. A movie such as The Desperate Hour is touching on something that has been a far too active issue for decades. And yet, not much is done to fight the core of the issue. This is exactly what this movie also gets at.

Without getting “preachy”, I might add.

Watch The Desperate Hour in theaters or On Demand

Philip Noyce is the director of The Desperate Hour and he definitely knows how to create female-driven movies. He directed the hugely successful Salt (2010) starring Angelina Jolie. More recently, he also worked on the series What/If on Netflix.

The screenplay was written by Chris Sparling who wrote Buried (2010), Mercy (2016)The Warning (2018), and Greenland (2020), to name just a few. All of them feature thriller and/or action-driven plots that are audience pleasers. Sometimes more as “popcorn entertainment” than anything else. But all have value.

The Desperate Hour was originally titled “Lakewood” after the town (and school names) in the movie. I can see why this was changed, though it did make sense. Much like names such as “Columbine” and “Sandy Hook” have become synonymous with school shootings, so would Lakewood in this context.

And I do think this topic of a school shooting is incredibly relevant for a movie. For me, this particular storyline just includes far too many “entertainment” or “action”-driven plot points in the final part. Ultimately, the first half is very strong while the second goes a bit off the rails. Still, it is worth watching for that first half!

The Desperate Hour is out in Theaters, on Digital, and On Demand February 25, 2022.


Director: Phillip Noyce
Writer: Chris Sparling
Stars: Naomi Watts, Colton Gobbo, Sierra Maltby, Andrew Chown, Michelle Johnston, Debra Wilson, Woodrow Schrieber, David Reale, Jason Clarke


Unfolding in real time, THE DESPERATE HOUR is a “riveting and pulse pounding” thriller from award-winning director Phillip Noyce. Recently widowed mother Amy Carr (Academy Award®-nominee Naomi Watts) is doing her best to restore normalcy to the lives of her young daughter and teenage son in their small town. As she’s on a jog in the woods, she finds her town thrown into chaos as a shooting takes place at her son’s school. Miles away on foot in the dense forest, Amy desperately races against time to save her son.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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