Remember Final Destination? Of-course you do, it was an absolute blast of a teen horror film, and kickstarted a massively successful franchise. Well, Countdown is basically Final Destination for the smart phone generation. The similarity in concept is so strong I’m surprised this even got made. The differences however are equally strong. Namely, whereas Final Destination was good, Countdown is not.
For those who don’t recall, Final Destination was about cheating death. If fate had decided that you were meant to die in a plane crash, but for some reason missed your flight, then fate would eventually come and claim you. There was no monster, just the creeping spectre of death, and some vividly imaginative ways to die. It’s a great film, go and watch it.
Countdown upgrades this plot with a Death app for your phone. You download it, and it tells you how long you’ve got left to live. If you break the user agreement and don’t get in the car that was meant to crash (or whatever was meant to kill you), then you are stalked by a malevolent being who comes to finish the job.
Elizabeth Lail (best known as Beck from the first season of You) is student nurse Quinn. She encounters a young man at the hospital where she works who has fallen prey to the Death app. Despite giving her a pretty damn convincing story, she idiotically downloads the app herself and discovers she only has a few days left to live. When she cancels all of her plans (uh-oh user agreement broken) a shadowy cloaked demon of the PG-13 variety begins to haunt her.
Quinn’s attempts to save herself lead her to a phone repair shop to try and remove the app from her phone. The owner of this shop is quite funny and has the best line in the film. Here she bumps into Matt (Jordan Calloway) who is having his own troubles with the app. They team up and seek help from an eccentric priest, played for laughs by P.J. Byrne.
The film does have a few things to say about what is out there on the internet, the darkness we let into our lives via our phones, and poses the question about what compels us to click on the things we know we shouldn’t. It also takes a surface level swipe at all the fake stuff online that becomes indecipherable from reality, and our overall relationship with what is real. The film then overreaches in its attempt to be relevant with a dreadful #MeToo subplot.
Countdown is a mildly diverting way to spend 90-minutes, but even at that brisk running time it drags. Completely reliant on cattle-prod jump scares, it is not scary in the slightest. It’s occasionally amusing, but nowhere near enough to call it a comedy-horror. There’s nothing new here, and sadly not much to recommend.
Cast: Elizabeth Lail, Jordan Calloway, Talitha Bateman, Peter Facinelli, Tichina Arnold, P.J. Byrne Director:Justin Dec Writer: Justin Dec Released By: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Certificate: 15 Duration: 87 mins Release Date: 2nd March 2020