In COUNTDOWN, when a young nurse (Elizabeth Lail) downloads an app that claims to predict exactly when a person is going to die, it tells her she only has three days to live. Spoilers that needn’t be divulged here.
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When a young nurse, Quinn Harris (Elizabeth Lail) downloads an app that claims to predict the moment a person will die, it tells her she only has three days to live. As for Quinn? Like in You , Lail just doesn’t necessarily pull you in. She simply exists, is focused on, knows her lines, but her delivery just makes her come off like she is on auto-pilot. So even with establishing how strained her relationship is with her sister, and the film trying to build off that, after a certain point you’ll just be invested in the next scare and accept Quinn will likely be part of it.
All of this is to say that Countdown” starts out embarrassing but gets progressively more entertaining as time goes on, to the extent that you start to wonder if it was ever actually bad to begin with. Maybe it was always this quirky. And although that means it’s hard to get invested in the storyline and spooky set pieces (all the ghostly jump scares in the world don’t amount to a hill of beans if we know nobody can die until tomorrow), it also means we can all just sit back and have a little chuckle with this insubstantial but amusing piece of matinee nonsense.
The techie ( Tom Segura ) and the priest ( P.J. Byrne ) offer a couple of laughs, but those end up feeling misplaced due to the seriousness and shallowness of the rest of the movie. The scariest moments – usually involving mirrors or shadows – are clearly copied from better movies. Even the main idea was better used in the Final Destination movies, which were almost existential in their simplicity, and the Ring series, which had a much clearer, more terrifying idea. Countdown actually comes closer to bad movies like Bedeviled (also about an evil app) and The Bye Bye Man , about curiosity leading to death. Like those, this movie will likely be forgotten, and that’s something you can count on.
When a young nurse downloads an app that claims to predict exactly when a person is going to die, it tells her she only has three days to live. With time ticking away and death closing in, she must find a way to save her life before time runs out.
Instantly and frequently summarized as the killer app movie,” Justin Dec’s writing and directing feature debut is that and more. In a premise with the outward appearance of J-horror classics like The Ring, yet lacking those films’ flavor, a sinister-looking program starts appearing on smartphones as unexpectedly as a new U2 album. When users open it, a ticking timer screen displays the time left until they die. It seems like a lame gag, except that when the numbers hit zero, their clocks do actually run out.
She also discovers that the same holds true for her estranged younger sister Jordan (TALITHA BATEMAN), and thus Quinn goes to phone shop owner Derek (TOM SEGURA) in hopes that he can delete the seemingly irremovable app from her phone. It’s there that she meets Matt Monroe (JORDAN CALLOWAY), a young man in the same predicament and they eventually make their way to Father John (PJ BYRNE) in hopes that he can help from a religious standpoint.
Said boyfriend (Dillon Lane) understands that pickle instantly: All it takes is a tree branch through the seat Courtney had just occupied for him to realize that the app wasn’t lying, and yes, he should definitely download it right now, too (which, of course, means he also has mere hours to live). Eventually, Countdown” arrives at its actual star, sugar-sweet nurse Quinn ( Elizabeth Lail ), who listens to a shellshocked Evan rant about his imminent death from his hospital bed. Despite obvious reasons for her to abandon ship, Quinn can’t help but dig deeper.
Age Appropriate For: 13+. This horror movie about an app that lets you know when you’re going to die mainly contains a fair amount of surprising violence, including shocking deaths along the lines of the Final Destination” series, attacks by monsters, beatings and other bloody moments, along with a scene where a man tries to force himself upon a woman. The movie also has a very strong anti-drunk-driving message and depicts the danger and irresponsibility of that practice; adults and teens drink and drug use is suggested; frequent cursing; characters kiss and are implied to be sleeping together.
It’s a horror play on a concept we saw in the 2009 rom-com TiMER, which envisioned a clock counting down to the moment a person meets their soulmate. Black Mirror also gave it a whirl with season 4 episode Hang the DJ,” about a dating app that puts a clock on how long relationships will last. This promises a lot less happy ending.
The titular Countdown” app is very simple: you download it to your phone, and it gives you a countdown that reveals when you’re going to die. Most people find out they’ve got decades left to live and go on about their days. But some people find out they’ve only got a few days, or even hours, so they freak out and try to change their destiny.
That being said, the frustration of being utterly powerless to do anything about a malfunctioning phone animates the early scenes before it emerges that the app has real supernatural malevolence. It’s more unsettling to realize that we don’t fully understand the technology we use daily and that we have minimal recourse when our electronic lifelines do annoying things seemingly of their own accord. But Dec only partially explores the ways Countdown actually resonates with real-world insecurities and fears.
He corners Quinn in a comatose patient’s room and tries to force a kiss on her. After she fends him off, he weaponizes the current culture of workplace sensitivity against her. It’s a dark twist on a refrain common in today’s headlines, but until the creep’s utility to the story gets activated deep in the third act, he’s restrained to a subplot jutting out awkwardly from the rest of the film. Like any app, the jumbled script has its bugs and extraneous features.
Initially a silly distraction at a raging house party, the titular app arrives with little fanfare — a glitch in a search of a weight loss app called Countdown to Skinny” calls it up instead — and a beer-swilling table of pals can’t escape the allure of its promise to tell users the exact time of their death. (It’s just an app!” Oh, how they will learn.) First-time filmmaker Justin Dec plunges right into the mayhem before the opening credits even roll, presenting his killer gimmick and offing some innocents in gruesome fashion along the way. A less disturbing Final Destination” knock-off with a genuine sense of fun, Countdown” is disposable escapism, but at least attuned to its limited appeal.
For a film with a run-time of only 1 hour 30 minutes, you’d think they could include some more scenes with the show stealing characters. But the film also benefits from this run-time because it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. The effects in the film aren’t life-changing, but they aren’t horrible. They don’t take away from your experience watching the film.
Evan ends up in a hospital where he’s cared for by nurse Quinn Harris (ELIZABETH LAIL) who works for head nurse, Nurse Amy (TICHINA ARNOLD), and must contend with unwelcome sexual advances from Dr. Sullivan (PETER FACINELLI). But with surgery scheduled for his injuries and also having little time left according to the Countdown app, Evan’s understandably nervous. As is Quinn, especially after Evan dies and she decides to try the app only to learn she has less than three days left.
Quinn soon meets Matt, a guy who, like her, downloaded the app out of curiosity and somehow broke the terms and conditions as well. To make matters worse, Quinn’s own little sister, Jordan, decided to check it out after seeing big sis’s frantic reaction to the countdown.
It only gets dumber from there, I’m afraid. Quinn goes to a smartphone store to get a new phone to try and dodge the app, which of course doesn’t work (and violates the terms of service to boot). It’s there that she meets Matt (Jordan Calloway, Legacy”), another Countdown user with a limited time left to live. The two convince the smartphone guy to hack the app (because that’s totally how this works) and discover that there’s Latin in there (because OF COURSE there is), so they go to a priest, who sends them to ANOTHER priest named Father John (P.J. Byrne, The World Without You”), who happens to be a real nerd about demons and such.
The funniest part about Countdown” is that it features one of the laziest set-ups for a sequel I’ve seen in a long time. I won’t spoil it, just in case you do actually want to see this movie, but I actually laughed out loud when they tried to tee-up a sequel. It was so quick and unnecessary that I couldn’t help but laugh, which probably wasn’t the reaction the filmmakers were going for.
The ubiquity of the internet and the various concerns it inspires have led to a wealth of horror movies built on a foundation of those (often well-founded) fears. Whether it’s the addictive qualities, the social disconnect, the constant surveillance and lack of privacy or any one of a dozen other things, there’s plenty of scary stuff about the internet.
Countdown” cycles through a number of characters, and the setup for each individual is often the same: The person learns of what the app can do, downloads it, is shocked to realize they only have hours or days left to live, and then try to avoid or subvert what the app tells them. A teenager avoids getting into a car driven by her drunk boyfriend; a nurse avoids the relentless flirtation of an overbearing doctor. Each of them ends up with the app on their phones, and each of them is informed that they have broken the user agreement”—and must die.
This isn’t a great movie for teens either. The violence is less gory than in other horror flicks, but the profanity is quite high for a PG-13 release. Add to that the teenage drinking and driving, and you’ve got a real home run of bad behavior. Admittedly, being hunted and murdered by an app on your phone is probably a pretty good excuse for the profanity, but it’s hard to justify the casual approach to teenage alcohol consumption.
As in many similarly conceived predecessors, Countdown” asks the question of what you would do if you learned when you were about to die. Would you be afraid? Accepting? Try to change it? The teens and adults in Countdown” are often victims of peer pressure and deadly curiosity, downloading and installing the app although they’ve heard about its dangers. There might be a message in Countdown” about the harmful lure of technology and the damaging effects it can have on one’s individuality and decision-making skills, and parents taking tweens to Countdown” could perhaps raise those questions after the film’s fairly brisk 90-minute run time.
Father John is found smoking, blaring his music, and eating sacramental wafers in the library of a church. He tells Quinn and Matt that the origin story of the Countdown app involved a gypsy witch. In a later scene, he is shirtless, and we see he has several cross tattoos on his body. He admits that he got into the cloth” because of his interest in demons.
When a young nurse (Elizabeth Lail) downloads an app that claims to predict exactly when a person is going to die, it tells her she only has three days to live. With time ticking away and death closing in, she must find a way to save her life before time runs out.
After someone at the hospital comments that they don’t think God wants them to download the app, the preacher who runs the hospital’s chapel says that God has a plan for everyone. Later, Quinn and Matt visit the man in the hospital chapel (which has a large crucifix in the background) to ask about demons, and he refers them to Father John after saying that he believes demons are more metaphorical.
If a horror movie is actually scary, it can make audiences forgive pretty much any sort of narrative or logical mistakes in the film. Unfortunately for Countdown,” the film never offers up any sort of legitimate thrills or horrifying moments.
It’s abundantly clear to anyone who’s ever used Twitter that our apps want to kill us. The new horror movie Countdown just wants to ask how and why. The titular Countdown” app was of course made up for the movie, but after seeing the trailer, UK-based horror fan Ryan Boyling was inspired to actually create the app for real.
In addition to dealing with a demonic app, Elizabeth Lail’s Quinn endures sexual harassment by her superior. The film’s script predates Harvey Weinstein and #MeToo, but the filmmakers kept the subplot due to its urgency. LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — I wanted to look at my phone more than the characters did in Countdown.
There are three very distinct types of horror movies that often hit theaters. We know when the next “scary” part will happen, so it’s a great movie to half-pay attention to until the countdown gets closer. Countdown relies too heavily on jump scares, but still fails to distract from a gimmicky premise, a poorly developed script and thin characters.
On a seemingly routine shift at the hospital, registered nurse Quinn Harris (Elizabeth Lail) is responsible for treating Evan (Dillon Lane), a young man who was injured in a car accident. He is apprehensive about undergoing surgery, as an app on his phone claims that he will die during the procedure. When he refuses surgery and later turns up dead at the bottom of a stairwell, Quinn decides to look at the app for herself. This is a mistake: the app tells her she has two days to live and now Quinn has to fight her fate.