Nathan Phillips chats to Rachel Quilligan about his new Aussie apocalypse film.

The meteor has hit and the end is coming. There’s only 12 hours left before a boiling cloud of death wipes out all life. It’s a difficult concept to face, and one new Australian film These Final Hours doesn’t shy away from.

Nathan Phillips, who plays lead character James, says the film is so much more than a genre disaster movie.

“The subject matter is so heavy, dark and confronting,” he says. “Life is about suffering, so it’s not this Hollywood fluff machine – there’s a lot of reality in this film.

“It’s humanising to watch other people deal with something that’s so confronting and real; how do we deal with confronting our own mortality? How do we deal with our final hours on earth? Everyone’s on the same rollercoaster ride.”

The plot follows party boy James on an unlikely path to redemption. On his way to the party to end all parties he reluctantly rescues a young girl, Rose. Their dubious partnership leads James to question what is truly important in life.

“As an actor, not to judge your character is a big thing,” says Phillips. “He’s not very redeemable, he’s not very likeable, he’s not very loveable, but he’s got something, and he’s just working it out.”

Set in Perth and featuring a collection of rough characters, the film has a uniquely Aussie feel and sense of humour.

“These characters aren’t too dissimilar to our mates down the street,” says Phillips. “There are certain things – vernacular, and budgie smugglers – those things we just get, we all laugh. Not many Yanks will get the slang.

“I think the theme and the premise is so universal that anyone who has any empathy for the human condition can relate to this movie.”

Phillips says the no-nonsense attitude of writer and director Zak Hilditch allowed the layers of the film to flourish without becoming heavy-handed.

“Zak is not a spiritual, religious human. His wheels don’t turn like that,” says Phillips. “His writing doesn’t get into too much exposition and doesn’t get too religious. He’s not really trying to offer us any real answers. He’s saying ‘find your own answer’, which I just love.

“This film could’ve easily had some kind of agenda but it just tells a really big story in a simple way instead. I couldn’t write and direct a movie like this because I’m too emotional – I’m an existential, philosophical freak! I’m a mess wondering what happens when you die.”

These Final Hours is in cinemas now.