Cast: Elizabeth Lail, Jordan Calloway, Talitha Bateman, Tichina Arnold
Director: Justin Dec
I’m going to try to get through this as painlessly as humanly possible. Countdown has all the makings of a terrible, simple horror movie. Generic plot that uses technology against the protagonist? Check. A PG-13 rating right around Halloween? Check. STX working to distribute the movie? Once again check. The reason movies like Countdown get made is because it takes little to no effort to make and they bring in a ton of money based on their budget. They target teenagers who can’t see real R-rated horror movies and exploit them for their parent’s money. Uninspired, boring, and a general waste of time, Countdown isn’t worth a stream as you can spend your time doing something more productive and entertaining like flossing or paying bills.
The film follows Quinn Harris (Lail), a nurse who downloads the Countdown app, an app that tells you how long you have left to live. While she initially plays it off as a stupid app, she starts noticing people who run out of time are actually dying. Knowing her time on the app is almost up, she works with her friend Matt (Calloway) and her sister Jordan (Bateman) must work together to stop the demon living in the app if they want to live longer than the time they’ve been given. We’ve seen plots like countless times before, but I don’t know how often they are done this poorly. The demon is barely explained, the logic of the movie is bonkers, and apparently no actions towards the end of the movie have consequences regardless of who is impacted by them. I can look past all of these mistakes since horror movies aren’t exactly known as being the most innovative stories of all time, but the one thing a horror movie must have in order for it to work is it has to be scary. Countdown refuses to do anything outside of the traditional PG-13 tropes that have been beaten to death over the years. I never thought I’d say this, but this is the type of movie that Blumhouse would thrive making because they understand the materials and the targeted audiences necessary to make something at least mediocre. Countdown is really just a who cares type of movie that features some actors that teenagers know from television and really has no value outside of that. It’s even sadder when you have great comedians like Tom Segura in this movie and you don’t decide to lean into the “so bad it’s good” category and make something funny and entertaining. The fact that this movie made enough money to potentially warrant the sequel that it set up is legitimately scary and shows we may be in a worse place in society than I originally thought. Part of me wants to treat this like “who cares” movie and give it a bit of a pass, but we need to hold studios to higher standards if we ever want to see real change in the industry. I wasn’t expecting Countdown to be the best movie of the year, but we as audiences have to expect better regardless of the subject matter.
Overall, 2019 really has been quite a dud for horror movies. There have been one or two that have stood out as impressive, but for the most part the rest have met or fell below expectations which isn’t exactly what I’m hoping for from the genre. Countdown is what happens when some no-name studio and third-rate distributor work together to deliver a boring, uninspired horror movie which apparently audiences ate up. Everyone involved in this movie needs to rethink their life choices and hopefully we can kick the dumb horror movie trend in the future.
Overall Score: 2.5/10