Countdown’s box office success was probably a surprise to many. With an official theatre run in October 2019 and a budget of just $6.5 million, the fact it grossed almost $50 million is making someone excited somewhere. A digital, Blu-Ray and DVD release followed in January 2020 and comes as a directorial debut from Justin Dec. If you’re looking for movies about beating death like Final Destination franchise, you’ve come to the right place.
The cast is a great set of well-known faces I was happy to see. Elizabeth Lail from Original Netflix series You stars as the lead, Quinn a resident doctor in training. We meet her in the hospital where Dillon Lane who I know from Modern Family has a few lines. It’s here that Quinn downloads the app after a patient waiting for surgery begins to point out the evils in its design.
The narrative itself is nothing new, like the film Polaroid I felt way too many likenesses to the movie Final Destination to be all that impressed. But lucky for me, the premise is something I will seek out and never tire of. I like how this particular story was told. The modern application of some kids sitting around at a party and stumbling across an app that sets a timer for when you will die was a reasonable scenario. Countdown is a simple story.
What’s the Movie Countdown About?
- Download the app,
- The downloader accepts the terms and conditions,
- The app sets a timer giving you years, hours and days,
- Death comes when the timer reaches zero.
In any case, like similar movies, in this scenario, the terms and conditions are the rules of the ‘game.’ For most of the movie, it strings you along. Soon after Quinn downloads the app, a message flashes onto her screen. The terms and conditions are broken. In opening scenes, a girl from the party is also shown receiving the warning message. Her time is short. Out of all of her friends, she was shown to be practically knocking on death’s door. Everyone watching wants to know what the terms and conditions are. The scenario is so familiar it’s easy to go along with. Who reads the terms and conditions anyway?
Jump Scares and Atmospheric Tension
The scares are all built around atmospheric tension and the predictability plays into that. It’s a great tactic and one of my personal favorites in horror. Filmmakers are trying to confuse the matter. They want you to know there is something there. Something lurking. Countdown branches out on that original fear that was so defiantly used in Final Destination. Someone knows they are going to die. You know they are going to die. But how will it happen?
Jump scares aren’t overused even if the tired and worn tropes of luring people onto staircases are. In fact, this would be my biggest gripe about the whole thing. A few small but irritating faux-pas in the set of some of the deaths themselves. Not nearly as clever or well thought out as those from my favorite franchise. For mostly-intelligent characters, some are convinced to do terribly stupid things. Even more annoying was a particular scene involving a vivacious priest and a salt circle. Quinn has the presence of mind to make it so a pesky old demon can’t conjure wind and have it blow away. Once all the survivors are safe inside said circle, somehow they are lured outside its protection. It irked me and I wish they’d just let a rampant gust split it and had the demon kill them all right then and there.
Despite finding it totally predictable and with those mild annoyances, the great casting choices make this a very pleasant time passer. There is a modern #metoo angle found in the latter half that I quite enjoyed even if there was no follow up for it. There’s a comedic tone infused into the dialogue that’s also not unpleasant. A great time passer and a film I can recommend to anyone who likes a bit of a death curse horror flick.
I give Countdown
3.5 throw the bad guys under the death bus out of 5