Countdown is the latest PG-13 horror film that reinforces just how cancerous they are to the horror genre. It is a rushed film with a moderately interesting plot device that plays out like your typical modern horror film with an unbearable amount of jumpscares. Sitting through the mess of Countdown is the equivalent of self-torture and there is very little to commend in this film.
Death is an inevitability in life as every living person comes to know with time. However, no one knows when it will be their time to take one final breath. Countdown offers the answer with an app, but this app becomes an issue for a few people when they learn they only have a couple of days left to live. Directed and written by Justin Dec, the film stars Elizabeth Lail, Jordan Calloway, Talitha Bateman, Anne Winters, Peter Facinelli, and Tom Segura. Countdown follows Quinn (Lail), a young nurse who tries to avoid death after the app predicts she only has three days to live.
Countdown is a massive misfire mostly do to its wasted potential. The characters are horribly written and there is hardly any development. Also, the film suffers from bad dialogue that is the epitome of cringeworthy. Stupid decisions from characters are in large quantity, it gets to the point where it seems the filmmakers wanted to fit as many moronic moments in as possible. Quinn is a likable character that leads the film, but everyone else feels like an annoyance, or they are introduced midway through with little reason for audiences to care about them. For instance, Quinn becomes acquainted with Matt (Calloway) midway through the film and the two bond over their experiences with the app. The fact that it all happens so fast leaves little time to get invested in his character.
Adding to that, after squandering a ninety-minute runtime, Countdown has the nerve to plant the seeds for an unwarranted followup. It comes at a time where just as you think the film won’t anger you any further, it rushes in the chance for another film to happen. Hopefully, this potential sequel avoids shoving jumpscares in every scene because Countdown offers so many in every other scene that it’s almost laughable at how so many people will still be scared of it. It follows the formula of music leaving the scene, brief silence, and then a sudden loud noise. If you want to mask your failures at telling a compelling and terrifying story you result to inserting a streak of formulaic jumpscares.
Lail does what she can, but her performance seems uninspired and it feels like she is playing the exact same character from her role as Beck in Netflix’s hit series YOU. Not a bad performance, just not good enough to warrant interest for ninety minutes of unbearable trash. The one redeeming quality was Segura, who stole every scene his character Derek participated in. Other than that, most of the acting was subpar at best or just difficult to sit through.
Dec didn’t impress as a writer or director and most of the film is shot in such an odd way, but the biggest crime might have been the pacing. As mentioned earlier, Countdown moves so fast its as if the film is running away from its self. No time whatsoever is available to fully get behind any of the characters introduced and it’s a shame because that may have ended up making the film better overall if it slowed down a bit. However, this would have just lead to spending more time watching a sequence of nonsense unfold so perhaps the shorter the better. There are plenty of effective ninety-minute horror films, but this film misuses the time it has sadly.
Countdown is not a movie worth seeing in theaters or seeing at all for that matter. It is a rushed mess that should have gone straight to home media. The film is generic, hollow, and unbearable. While it does have a few enjoyable moments and some decent technical work, as a whole the film is a complete misfire.