The Desperate Hour

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The Desperate Hour
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPhillip Noyce
Written byChris Sparling
Produced by
  • Andrew D. Corkin
  • Chris Sparling
  • Alex Lalonde
  • Zack Schiller
  • David Boies
  • Naomi Watts
  • Chris Parker
  • Dylan Sellers
StarringNaomi Watts
CinematographyJohn Brawley
Edited byLee Haugen
Music byFil Eisler
  • Untapped
  • Boies/Schiller Entertainment
  • Limelight
Distributed by
Release date
  • September 12, 2021 (2021-09-12) (TIFF)
Running time
84 minutes
  • United States
  • Canada

The Desperate Hour (originally Lakewood) is a 2021 thriller film directed by Phillip Noyce. It stars Naomi Watts as a woman who is desperately racing to save her child after police place her hometown on lockdown due to an active shooter incident.[1][2] The film was shot in the North Bay area of Ontario in 2020.[3] It premiered at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival.[4] The Desperate Hour was theatrically released by Roadside Attractions and Vertical Entertainment on February 25, 2022.[5][6]


On Friday, September 24, 2021, recently widowed mother, Amy Carr, decides to take a personal day off work. She waves goodbye to her young daughter, Emily, who boards a school bus, but discovers her teenaged son, Noah, still in bed, complaining he is sick. Amy takes a jog through the woods, navigating through several routine calls while running. Shortly after meeting several police cars traveling hurriedly, Amy receives a bulletin on her cell phone reporting all area schools are in lockdown.

Desperately trying to find out more information, Amy places several calls, the combination of which gradually allow her to piece together details. She learns there is an active shooter at the high school who has taken the life of a girl. Further, she concludes Noah is not home, but instead went to the high school after his truck is seen in the parking lot. A mechanic, whose shop is near the school, tells Amy the police are searching Noah's truck. He later adds that four other vehicles, besides Noah's, are also being searched. A police officer, via a 911 dispatcher, asks Amy questions about Noah which leads her to wonder if Noah is the school shooter. In a subsequent call, the police tell Amy that Noah is not the shooter, and the shooter is not a student.

Amy eventually makes her way to the highway where she meets a Lyft driver who takes her to the high school. Along the way, Amy calls the shooter's cell number which her boss surreptitiously retrieved. The shooter answers but hangs up after a brief exchange. Amy discovers the shooter is a former employee of the school. The police call Amy, chiding her for calling the shooter and disrupting their negotiation efforts. Noah calls Amy, but the call is short and Noah is under obvious stress. The police call Amy back asking if she can, again, call the shooter, hoping she can distract him so the police can breach the room where the hostages are located.

Amy arrives at the scene and during her brief call to the shooter, she hears gunfire and loses contact with both the shooter and Noah. Standing by the police barricades at the school's perimeter, Amy sees Noah emerge and the two are joyfully reunited. On the trip home, Amy's mother calls and tells Amy she is picking up Emily. Noah makes a social media post in which he denounces school shootings and encourages his audience to courageously fight against them.



On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 28% of 78 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 4.5/10. The website's consensus reads: "Naomi Watts gives it her all, but The Desperate Hour falls short as a thriller as well as social commentary."[7]

Reviewer Shubhabrata Dutta of Digital Mafia Talkies described The Desperate Hour as "a film that is based almost completely on phone conversations".[8]


  1. ^ Gregg Goldstein, "Naomi Watts and Director Phillip Noyce to Film Limelight Thriller Lakewood". Variety, September 12, 2020.
  2. ^ Jeremy Kay, "Naomi Watts thriller Lakewood proves hot seller for Mister Smith". Screen Daily, November 9, 2020.
  3. ^ "Eau Claire Gorge closing for filming". North Bay Nugget, September 16, 2020.
  4. ^ Kate Erbland, "TIFF 2021 Lineup: Dear Evan Hansen, Tammy Faye, Titane, and More". IndieWire, August 4, 2021.
  5. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (September 27, 2021). "Naomi Watts & Phillip Noyce Thriller Lakewood Picked Up By Vertical Entertainment & Roadside Attractions Post TIFF". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 27, 2021.
  6. ^ Fernandez, Alexia (January 19, 2022). "Watch Naomi Watts in Hair-Raising Trailer for Her New Thriller The Desperate Hour". People. Retrieved January 19, 2022.
  7. ^ "The Desperate Hour". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved December 12, 2023.
  8. ^ "'The Desperate Hour' Summary & Review: A Time-Bomb of a Thriller | DMT". February 26, 2022.

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