"Uninspired Horror Thriller"
What You Need To Know:
COUNTDOWN falls apart in the second half. The logic of the story gets ludicrously bad on multiple levels the further the movie runs. Ultimately, the movie just doesn’t have enough of a story to fill a feature film. Also, the movie has plenty of intense, scary violence involving a demon. There’s also lots of foul language and some substance abuse. Finally, COUNTDOWN has strong occult elements that eventually undercut its moral worldview. COUNTDOWN is aimed at teenagers and adults, but the quality is so weak it won’t attract many moviegoers or horror movie fans.
COUNTDOWN is a horror thriller about a young nurse who tries to keep herself and her sister alive after a new phone app tells them they’re doomed to die in two days. COUNTDOWN goes downhill in the second half and contains lots of intense violence, foul language, some substance abuse, and strong occult elements that undercut the movie’s moral elements.
The movie follows a young woman named Quinn (Elizabeth Lail) who downloads a phone app called Countdown that claims to tell users the exact moment they’re going to die. While many other people get as much as 80 more years to live, she’s told she has less than three days.
At first, Quinn laughs at the idea, but when she realizes that a patient of hers claimed to have used the app and wound up dead at the time it predicted, she realizes there’s a real danger in the app. When her younger sister, Jordan (Talitha Bateman), also opens the app to find she has even less time to live, Quinn begins a desperate quest to derail the app’s countdown clock and make sure their deaths don’t happen.
Quinn enlists the help of another man named Matt (Jordan Calloway), who has also opened the app to find he has just days to live. Together, with Jordan in tow, they run to get the advice of two different priests. The first one is the level-headed hospital chaplain who claims the Catholic Church only considers demons to be metaphorical (which is an utterly false claim), and then a younger, goofy priest obsessed with ghosts and the supernatural.
Along the way, Quinn is also dealing with a near-sexual assault perpetrated by a doctor (Peter Facinelli), who lies and claims she came on to him.
COUNTDOWN has appealing lead actors, particularly Lail as Quinn and Calloway as Matt. Writer/Director Justin Dec also creates some fun with humorous side characters including the over-eager priest and a shady cellphone store owner. The first half also has some fun suspense and a couple of impressive death scenes that are shot discreetly, leaving most to the viewer’s imagination.
However, the core premise is almost ludicrously paper-thin, with the first teenager at a party scene opening the app within a couple minutes of the film’s start, and the app never revealing what drives it and why it’s intent on killing people. The logic of the story on multiple levels gets ludicrously bad the further the movie progresses. It even gets offensive in a couple scenes where the Catholic Church’s teachings on demons are distorted.
Ultimately, Writer/Director Justin Dec just doesn’t have enough of a story to fill a feature film, and the lazy writing devolves into a demon suddenly manifesting to kill people in the second half after not being seen while also killing people in the first. The final fights are shadowy and uninspired, making it hard to tell who’s who in the melees.
SPOILER ALERT: In the end, the movie has the cheapest horror ending imaginable, as the women think they’re safe until the phone reactivates and says Countdown 2.0 is coming. This cheap and tacky money grab points at a sequel that this movie is unlikely to ever actually deserve or receive. END SPOILER.
With false religion, plenty of violence, lots of foul language, and strong occult elements, COUNTDOWN is aimed at teenagers and adults, but the quality is so weak it won’t attract many moviegoers or horror movie fans.