PLOT: A nurse downloads an app that tells you when you are going to die. Unfortunately for her, it claims she only has a couple of days to live. As the hours and minutes pass, she begins to realize that she should really be more careful before downloading crap on her phone.
REVIEW: Imagine having the power to know the very second you are supposed to die. Well, in the new teen scream called COUNTDOWN, there’s an app for that. If this sounds scary to you, well then you probably haven’t seen it yet. The new thriller takes on the premise that once you download this creepy app, you can’t change the future. And if you do, you end up having the same fate you would of if you had just gone about your daily business. In fact, it’s almost impressive just how unimaginative and lazy this flick is. Usually in a horror film, there are a set of rules that the killer plays by. Here, those rules are sloppily handled, ignored or new aspects are just randomly added on for fun. It’s a mess of a film on every level. Ultimately, the only countdown that I could think of during this dumb flick was how quickly it would end. Thankfully, it’s pretty short.
Quinn Harris (Elizabeth Lail) is a nurse who just passed her exams. One of her patients is a man who survived a terrible car accident. He explains to her that an app he had downloaded is telling him he will die during some surgery he is supposed to have – I don’t recall there being an explaination of what kind of surgery, but I guess who the hell cares. And I’ll bet you can figure what happens. The bad news is, she had already downloaded the damn app. Now, she only has a couple of days to live. While not totally convinced that it’s real, she decides to change her weekend plans just in case. Uh oh, you can’t do that, silly. Once she attempts to change the planned course of events, the app notification lets her know that she has broken the agreement. So what does that mean? Well she sees creepy images and that stupid clock keeps on ticking.
Where do I begin? Should I start with the fact that this feels like a sub par version of FINAL DESTINATION without a decent script? Or what about the fact that they don’t seem to have a grasp on any kind of mythology to make this work? How about we talk about the scares. Well, there are none. Okay, maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but the only time this movie manages to give you a jolt is by loud blasts of music or noise, followed by a quick glimpse of some demonic force. The over the top jump scares are tired and far more annoying than satisfying. However, that is all they appear to have. Even the creepy demon that they all see at random times, or right before they die, is more odd looking than actually terrifying.
Early on, the filmmakers attempt to make a bit a statement about our current world. One oddly handled sub-plot involves Peter Facinelli who plays a doctor with a creepy obsession for Quinn. After he attempts to force himself on her, and she of course says no, the film becomes a parable for what women go through in the work place. The way they handle this serious subject matter is straight up offensively bad. In fact, here we are in 2019, and this particular approach feels like one of those Lifetime movies from the 90’s or something like that. Like everything else here, it felt like it was an afterthought hoping to make the film feel relevant.
As the clock continues to tick and things get weird for Quinn – especially after her troubled sister Jordan (Talitha Bateman) downloads the app – she attempts to get help through a number of strange encounters. One involves a tech dude (Tom Segura) whom she buys a new phone off of. The other is a wacky priest (P.J. Byrne) who listens to rap and is really into demonology. The problem is that each of these little distractions add up to a messy and boring sideline without really moving the story forward. Sadly, this lame attempt at horror is not even really so bad that it’s good, it’s just dull and uninspired. However, I will give a bit of credit to Bateman, Lail and co-star Jordan Calloway, the three leads do the best the possibly can.
COUNTDOWN is exactly what you’d expect if you are at all aware of movies like WISH UPON or SLENDER MAN. And similar ideas have been done before in far better films like FINAL DESTINATION. Hell, even the worst FD is more interesting than this. The acting is fine, and it’s not horribly directed, but it all adds up to very little. It also offers very few actual scares aside from the loud blasts of music. If you love dumb teen flicks that spend little time on creating an interesting story, and instead just want to give you a couple of jolts, perhaps you’ll appreciate this. For the rest of us, this is just another sloppy and generic horror film. The story is a mess, the characters aren’t very interesting and the actual face behind the spooky app looks more like a weird muppet. But if you love bad genre flicks, well I guess you might have more patience than I did.