“Countdown” stars Elizabeth Lail, Peter Facinelli, Anne Winters, Talitha Bateman, Tichina Arnold, P.J. Byrne, Jordan Calloway, and Tom Segura. Released on October 25, 2019, the film is about a nurse who discovers a mysterious app that predict when a person will die.
The film is written and directed by Justin Dec. Every cell phone has specific apps that are used for different purposes, such as playing games, checking the weather, and making lists. There are also apps that are just there for some odd reasons, like countdown clocks and stuff. I haven’t used those types of apps before, so I couldn’t fully explain how I feel about them. With Halloween drawing near, this movie gave me a perfect excuse to watch a horror-related film that may or may not scare the living crud out of me. The film takes the concept of a harmless countdown app and turn it into a frightening experience that involves an entity that kills people who downloaded the app. Sheesh, talk about a “killer” app. Heh… From the looks of this concept, it looked like something that Blumhouse Productions would’ve produced since it made a horror film based on the game of Truth or Dare last year. Remember that piece of shlock? Of course you didn’t. However, it’s actually made by a different studio, which didn’t really affect my interest that much. So far this month, we got terrified by a psychotic person with clown makeup, hung out with a family that’s into spooky things, and battled zombies in a post-apocalyptic world. Now we got ourselves a phone app that’s to die for, literally. Was it able to conclude the month of scary stories on a high note?
This might sound a bit crazy to you guys, but I personally think that the film is pretty much “The Ring” with a countdown app. You know, since they both involve people dying because they watched or downloaded something that's created by supernatural beings. That’s all you need to know about the plot without giving away too much. To give credit where credit is due, the film’s story did attempt to provide a relatable theme of dealing with death in terms of both the “when” part and the loss of a loved one. The side plot that involves the main character Quinn Harris (played by Lail) and her little sister Jordan (Bateman) dealing with the loss of their mother is the prime example of the latter. It’s an interesting concept to explore because knowing the exact time of death is one of the scariest things that can affect one’s self both physically and mentally as well as people around them. Combining that with the supernatural horror elements that we’re familiar with could help the film become a fun scare-fest that combines spooks with heart. Unfortunately, it wound up being like the other cliched and cheap horror films from the past couple of years. A fright-less letdown that’s big on horror and small on substance. Writer/director Justin Dec had the right idea on what he wants to tell and his sense of providing tension was obviously noticeable, but it looked like he got so caught up on trying to scare his target audience that he lost track on developing the story and characters even further in the process. The plot is clearly full of cheap horror cliches such as the startling, yet ineffective, jump scares, side characters that come off as annoying rather than likable or funny (especially the smartphone dealer), and the ending. These cliches completely overshadowed the film’s unique take on its central theme, making me question why I should even care about these characters and the situations that they’re in. The only good thing about the film is the actors, which I thought were passable in their roles, including Elizabeth Lail as Quinn.
Overall, “Countdown” is a useless app that has no satisfying reward for those who downloaded it out of curiosity. The cast was fine and the tension-filled moments were quite startling and nicely-filmed, but they were all wasted by the film’s overuse of cheap horror cliches, its lack of strong character development, and an underwhelming plot. Personally, the noisy teenage boys that sat a couple of seats next to me didn’t make my experience that much better, either. Just throwing it out there. This is another horror film that only cares about scaring people rather than providing a good story. If you don’t mind that type of stuff, then you might like this one a bit more than I did. Otherwise, you’re better off checking Facebook or Instagram.