Countdown movie review

When a nurse downloads an app that predict the day she is going to die and she discovers she only has three days left to live, she must find a way to save herself before time runs out


Kaydia Mcfall, Staff member

Toward the end of October, the movie industry has a habit of slinging many horror movies at us, as a cheesy yet fun Halloween gimmick. Last year we got the “Halloween” remake and “Goosebumps 2.” But this year is different. With only a handful of “scary” movies like “Zombieland 2” and “The Addams Family.” The one true horror movie we got this October was “Countdown,” a movie with a social message that “phones are killing us.” Ok, I’ll bite.

“Countdown,” directed by Justin Dec, is about a haunted mobile app that tells you when you’re going to die. It follows Quinn Harris (Elizabeth Lail), a nurse who just passed her state finals to be a qualified nurse. During her celebration party, everyone decides to download the app Countdown for some dumb fun to see when they will die. Quinn downloads the app, and it tells her she has only three days to live.

Getting paranoid, she cancels plans on the day she was supposed to die thus “preventing” her from dying on that day. Apparently, when you use the app to prevent your death, a demon haunts you and then kills you when your time is up. Cool. She meets Matt (Jordan Calloway) a dude she met at a video store who is in a similar situation. They work together to figure out how to beat the app before the time is up. The concept is like a less creative “Final Destination” and that’s fine. It’s not the first time a film borrowed ideas from other horror flicks.

For the most part I liked all the characters. They were funny and charismatic. I also liked how a lot of the actors are less acclaimed ones. The director is not relying on big name actors to draw an audience, and I like that. The first half of the film is pretty good. It gets to the premise very quickly and wastes no time introducing audiences to the Countdown app. It has some good suspense, decent performing from everyone, and a very entertaining electronic store clerk played by Tom Segura. But after that, well… it atrocious. It’s so cringy and dumb that it almost makes everything from the first half pointless. You ever get frustrated from watching a character make a dumb decision in a horror movie? All the characters can seem to do is make bad choices in the second half and even the monster jumps in on the dumb decision game. I don’t think I have ever loved a character and then they messed up so bad that I just hated them by the end. It makes me feel like the writers got lazy by the end, and they failed to make a story that makes people invested in what’s going on. And to make it worse for themselves they blew it at the end. The end is rough to watch. It’s either a setup for a sequel or a dumb ending. There is no reason to set up a sequel to a movie with a premise as ridiculous as an app that kills you. I refuse to believe that anyone would write an ending as bad as what I witnessed.

The cliche of people making impossibly questionable choices in horror movies is just about as done as it will ever be. People want to see people make decisions closer to what a real human would make. What if instead, the victim blatantly won’t listen to the monster’s guilt trip because they know it’s fake? Now the monster has to get more creative. That would add to the fear, that even if you would make the ideal decision, you could still die. It would make people more afraid, and that’s the fun of horror movies.

While the beginning was okay, the one thing that peeved me the entire film was the monster. It’s just weird. Before the film tells you what it is, I had a hard time knowing what it was. At first I thought it was Death himself, or just an evil force of nature that killed people just for fun, or a ghost that haunts the app. The monster has the weirdest selection of monster powers ever, and they seem to only exist for plot reasons. It can shapeshift for no reason, except maybe to play on the characters’ dumb decisions. It can turn invisible and cause hallucinations, and I can see how that’s useful except turning invisible seems pointless when it can already shapeshift. Why not just blend in with everyone else and then scare victims when they least expect it? It seems like the writers tagged this on the end and it just makes the story lazy. And lastly, it can grab people without being anywhere near them for plot reasons. The idea of a creature that haunts you until you die is great. However, it gets old fast and makes me wonder what the point is. It’s like “Nightmare on Elm Street.” The killer likes to taunt the victim for long periods of time and never gets to the killing part until much later.

“Countdown” borrows too many ideas from other movies that it just makes me want to watch a better movie. As I watched, it just got more and more bland until eventually it left a bad taste in my mouth. The plot is lazy, the scares get old, and the concept gets more ridiculous the longer it drags on.

“Countdown” is a great example of how horror as a genre is in need of something more than cheesy jump scares and weird or quirky plots. It needs more of a social impact than phones are killing us. “Us” is able to blend comedy and horror while “Joker” can create a scary but real picture of mental illness and gun violence. Horror needs to stop with the back to basics slasher and start getting more creative.