Another Generic October Horror Movie

Review of the Movie “Countdown”


Peyton Berry

A poster of the movie Countdown, now in theaters.

Since it’s only a few days until Halloween, I can only assume that the brilliant minds in Hollywood decided that it’s the perfect time to dump a terrible horror movie into theaters. Most audiences are likely not going to see Countdown. But, I did.

Countdown is Justin Dec’s directorial debut and stars Elizabeth Lail as Quinn, a young woman working as a nurse at a local hospital. Her life turns for the worse when she downloads an app that can supposedly tell the user when he or she is going to die. At first, she doesn’t believe that the app is real. Like everyone else around her, she sees it as an elaborate hoax. However, after she is given less than three days to live, she realizes that the app is haunted by something that wants her dead.

I’m sure that this is a surprise to no one, but let’s get it out of the way. Countdown is simply a bad movie. Despite some scenes that actually work, the movie’s biggest sin was committed before the movie even began. The idea of a supernatural entity haunting an app on a cellphone is a somewhat interesting idea. If this film was put in the hands of another writer or director, such as Jordan Peele, this movie could’ve had some decent social commentary on how this new generation can become so addicted to technology that they can even put themselves at risk. Instead, Countdown follows the same-old horror movie formula of taking a decent idea and destroying every ounce of potential that it has by populating its script with stupid characters, a generic story, and way too many jump scares.

Let’s talk about those jump scares. This is a very sore subject with most horror movie fans, myself included. There’s at least 10 of them in this movie, and quite a few of them made me boil with anger. There’s absolutely nothing scary about a door slamming shut, or someone jumping in front of the camera and yelling. It’s ridiculously lazy, and it’s the simplest thing that the writer/director Justin Dec could’ve done. In the past few years, jump scares have begun to fade out of horror movies. I thought Hollywood and horror filmmakers were actually listening to their audiences, but in Countdown, they’re all over the place. There’s nothing scary about them.

So, I’ve already mentioned the characters and the story. Another terrible aspect of this movie is the aforementioned monster. One of the few positives that this movie has is that it looks much more expensive than it actually is. The CGI used to create this monster isn’t that bad, and it has a really cool design. However, I left the film with so many questions. The only explanation is that this monster is a servant of the devil. But, how did it come to be? Who summoned it? Who created it? What is it, other than some random demon? As I said earlier, there’s so much potential with this concept, but the movie chooses to play out like every other horror movie ever made, and it’s just frustrating.

However, the film’s biggest strength is that it’s well-directed. Justin Dec probably should wait before writing another script, but he’s clearly talented as a director. There are a few scenes in the first 20-25 minutes that are filled with tension, and they end with some really inventive scares. That first half-hour could’ve been worse, but instead, it felt like Dec was trying to make a decent movie. However, Countdown unfortunately takes a nosedive into mediocrity, thanks to some annoying side-characters and a terrible story. For people who just want to have fun with friends, they could easily do worse than see this movie. But, for people who want to see something more with their two hours, there are plenty of great options to choose from that would fit the bill.

Rating: D+