If I had to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure if Countdown, the horror that I’m to talk about, was going to be a theatrical release film. The reason I say that is because when I first saw the trailer randomly on Facebook I immediately went on Wikipedia to check it out, but for some reason there wasn’t an entry for this film. Just when I thought I thought I was going to get a break this week I saw that it was playing at my local theater. What are the odds? Because I’m committed to a seeing any movie that’s presented to me, I went to Mass and gambled the rest of my Sunday morning on watching a film that I had no desire to see. Was it as I predicted or was it an unexpected surprise? Sigh . . . let’s find out.
So Countdown follows Quinn (Elizabeth Lail), a newly trained nurse who hears about an app called Countdown from one of her patients. What this app does is it counts down how long you have left to live. Out of curiosity, Quinn downloads it and discovers she only has less than three days to live. She shrugs the information off but when she finds out that her patient that told her about the app died on schedule, she begins to get paranoid. As the story progresses she meets up with Matt (Jordan Calloway) who also downloaded the app and also has his days numbered and from there the two have figure out how they can escape their deaths before their countdown drops to zero.
I’m not going to try and hide it; Countdown has got to be one of the worst films that I have seen this year, both from a story standpoint to horror the aspects itself. I’ll elaborate on that but before I do I will be spoiling this movie which is something I don’t like to make a habit of doing. But this film left me so irritated that I feel like I have to. That and I hope no one else has to endure what I just went through.
As I said during my review for It: Chapter 2, I am a fan of smart horror and this decade alone has given us well-crafted horror films that earns it’s scare. Countdown, however, goes the lazy route of using jump scares and sudden noises to scare the audience. Some of this got me at first, but after the first two times I just became annoyed. Soon the scares became predictable to the point that I feel like I owe Maleficent: Mistress of Evil an apology for being predictable because with this film I saw things coming from a mile away. By then I was counting down the time for this movie to end.
While I’m irritated by the horror elements, I was more disappointed by the story itself in Countdown because I feel like it was something that could’ve worked. Hear me out. This could’ve been an interesting story about a secret society (something similar like the one in The Adjustment Bureau) that eliminates people and someone made the Countdown app as a way of warning people. Instead, the movie uses demons as a way of killing people which to me is a lazy route of storytelling in horror films these days. Another element in the story that I can’t ignore is the app itself brings up a series of plot-holes. For example, here’s a scene where Quinn and Matt go to someone who can break into their phones and look in the app and when he does he says that it takes over sixty gigs of space because it has everyone’s information on it. Normally I would shrug off a line like that, but throughout the film people have been downloading this app as soon as they hear about it and one minute later they get the results of their countdown. Either the screenwriter doesn’t know about phone storage and download times or this takes place in the future where everyone has superior phones. Either way, that doesn’t get addressed.
There was one character in Countdown that I almost had a connection to and that was Father John (P.J. Byrne), a priest that Quinn and Matt go see after they find out the app is controlled by demons. At first I thought that this was going to be a turning point in the film that I was going to enjoy, but I was wrong. When the central characters meet him in a church they find him smoking substances, listening to explicit rap, and casually eating communion wafers. From there all was lost trying to connect to a character that I could associate to the most. He did offer information that was helpful to Quinn and Matt, but after a tragedy happened to Matt he disappears never to be seen again with no explanation.
Like I said, Countdown could’ve been something interesting, but the cheap thrills and the plot holes in the story makes this one of the worst films of 2019 right next to “A Madea Funeral.” Seriously unless you really want to see a horrible horror film, please avoid this at all cost.