By Editor-in-Chief Gabriella Barthe
Walking into the theatre I had almost no expectations for Countdown. All I knew was that is was going to be about an app that tells people when they would die – interesting premise for a horror movie right? Unsurprisingly – its not original.
In the last decade multiple productions have been made with that very premise. Most notable has been the 2011 film In Time with Justin Timberlake which follows the premise of people who use time in their lifespan as currency in their society.
Countdown however follows the story of a society given the opportunity to see just how long they have to live for free with no consequences – that is until someone decides to break their user agreement. That’s right – this movie literally focuses on the fact people don’t read the fine print when they download apps onto their phones.
After the first mysterious deaths, the audience is left wondering just how an app could be aligned with some paranormal activity. The first almost sets it up to be that people on the app are watching them but when a man is pushed down the stairs by an unseeable force, it becomes clear that more is going on there.
The main characters Quinn Harris played by actress Elizabeth Lail, and Matt Monroe played by actor Jordan Colloway spend the rest of the movie trying to determine just what is happening to them as their clocks quickly begin to run out. With two days left to live they reach out to two priests, a phone technician, and fall into a number of strange social situations along the way.
Ultimately, the way the app is explained seems too contrived and frankly random. The priest is displayed as following the path because of how much he loved the idea of comics and spirits as a kid and not much else. For that reason, he’s way too excited about what is happening to them.
Quinn, the main lead, a nurse, and older sister, falls into three different subplots throughout the film that do not really get resolved. The issues at work aren’t actually settled, it’s unclear if her boss dies, and her trauma about her mother does nothing to explain her actions except for why she doesn’t currently live with her family – even though she is clearly supposed to be in her late 20’s early 30’s.
Watching her recount her mother’s death as a child doesn’t actually explain why she would want to use the app like she says it does, and the only connection to the action of the movie is that her, her dad, and her sister were supposed to visit her mother’s grave at the moment her counter would have run out. This could have seemingly been replaced with any possible occurrence and the film would have played out the same way – it was wholly unnecessary.
Killing off some of the characters in the film were also underutilized. Overall, it was hard to connect with anyone but Quinn as they weren’t given as much time on screen or would die and/or disappear shortly after becoming part of the narrative.
Countdown fell into the horror movie trap of focusing too much on the lead character killing off the villain and making audiences jump which lead to people counting down the minutes until it was over. Which is why it is even worse that the last scene in the movie set it up to have a sequel.
Would I watch it again? Highly unlikely. Should people go see it? If you like okay horror movies or are easily scared by jump cuts and technology go for it. Though frankly, I would suggest waiting until this movie ultimately makes its way onto an OnDemand or equivalent service rather than paying $15 at the box office.