Back in the day, if you wanted to know when your time on this earth was going to end, you would have to gather your gold pieces and go talk to a medium who could give you a (let’s face it) sketchy estimated time of departure. But thanks to the glorious thing that is technology, there is now an app for just this purpose! Countdown.
That’s right, boys and girls, grab your smart phone and download the Countdown app. It will tell you to the second when you are going to die. And that is exactly what you are getting into when you watch this movie.
When a young nurse, Quinn, hears rumors of the app from a man who’s terrified of dying that very day during an upcoming surgery, she scoffs it off to her coworkers, but they have also heard the rumors, and even when that man dies, the group finds it hard to believe that an app could actually dictate your death. So what do you do when you’re in that position? You download the app, of course (people make bad decisions in horror films after all).
That is when Quinn discovers that she is going to die in a couple days’ time. Uh oh.
While in a panic and trying to find a way to uninstall the app, Quinn accidentally exposes her younger sister to the app. Of course, even having been told not to, her sister downloads the app, and, unfortunately, has even less time than Quinn.
In Quinn’s attempts to understand the app more and cheat death, she ends up on a pretty bizarre path that takes her into a cell phone shop run by Tom Segura, which was a really fun surprise. (It isn’t actually Tom Segura, just some phone hacker dude played by Segura, but to be honest, they basically just told him to play himself here, which I am 100% ok with). Also, a stoner/conspiracist priest? There’s some weird turns here for sure.
But you’re wondering about the payoff and the horror, naturally. I’m pretty happy to note that this movie, while feeling fairly generic, does not follow the exact same paths that you would expect for a technology based horror. Sure, the phones play a big part, and sure a lot of the jump scares and freaky moments are involving various screens showing or not showing what might be haunting these people. But the lore behind the app and what is happening is (while a bit laughable) unique and somewhat different.
Instead of opting for constant jump scares, the film takes opportunities to take a more methodical approach to build up some tension, which is good. It just wasn’t truly terrifying in the end. There’s a good idea here, and with some time to cook, I bet they could have made something pretty memorable. Not that this movie is bad, I liked it quite a bit.
The ending was a bit predictable – not from far off, but before some things happen you will likely know what is to come. Also, they left a potential opening for a sequel, so we shall see if they choose to continue this story. I’d probably be up for some more of this, especially if they spent some time developing the lore behind the app.
Countdown spends a good amount of time with dark scenes, which is usually the most difficult area when it comes to visual quality. While some noise is present in these darker parts, the movie looks really good throughout. This isn’t reference quality or anything, but for a mid-tier horror film there was nothing that stood out as a weak point and to me that is a win.
Featuring a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 channel surround, even if it doesn’t use sound as much as I would like (they could have done more of the creepy sounds filling those channels), I was still happy with what was presented. Except for the god awful notification sounds from the countdown app. Good lord was that sound annoying. They could have done so much better.
This release comes with a slipcover and Digital copy, but no other features.
Our Recommendation for Countdown:
I’m always a sucker for horror films. Even terrible horror is entertaining and fun for me. Countdown, is definitely not terrible horror. It might not be a top tier release of the year, but it is definitely an interesting watch that explores a biologically engrained question about ones mortality while giving us Tom Segura selling cell phones. Give it a watch!