Countdown is an app that predicts when you will die. And once you’ve downloaded the killer app, if the countdown comes to an end, nothing can stop the cold hand of death…
If this ominous race-against-the-clock premise sounds like a mishmash of Final Destination, It Follows and The Ring, that’s because it is. But Justin Dec‘s Countdown never rises to the heights of these films; nor does it manage to get on an equal footing. The Final Destination films, for all their faults, had a certain sustainable sense of tension. It Follows had style and dread to spare. The Ring made room for social commentary. And where Countdown could have shrewdly included some sly subtext about our dependence to technology, how the latest fads afforded to us by the means of our smartphones tend to lobotomize us or induce anxiety, or even how fate cannot be raced, it only ends up as largely forgettable horror fodder.
That said, it could have been a lot worse: Elizabeth Lail does her level best with the role of nurse Quinn Harris, who’s battling her curtailed countdown (as well as one of her toxic, handsy co-workers), and the film frequently works when it embraces its own sense of ludicrousness. Sadly, the self-awareness is short-lived and you end up with a surface-level cyberhorror flick that’s not scary enough to get under your skin or smart enough to make you want to pick up your phone and start uninstalling.
Countdown | Directed by Justin Dec (US, 2019), with Elizabeth Lail, Jordan Calloway, Talitha Bateman. Starts Jan 30.
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