Review: ‘Countdown’ Justin Dec Gives Tech A Terrifying Update

Basic rule of horror is to take something everyone can
relate to and make it scary. Everyone dreams right? Boom A Nightmare on Elm Street. Babysitters are pretty standard right?
Hello Micheal Myers, and so on and so on. Up to this point the attempts at
adding a scary twist to the mobile revolution have been mediocre to stale.
Justin Dec is trying to change that with Countdown,
a film about an app that can tell you when you are going to die, or more
politically put, your life expectancy. The movie starts with a group of kids
who find an app on the dark web (I know we see dark web all the time now, but I
still feel like that’s a trough that hasn’t been sifted through enough) and run
it to see their life expectancy. Happy day all around, well almost all around.
While most of them get news that they’ll be around for decades a few get the
news that they don’t have long to live. Using this knowledge to try and defeat
fate, they soon find, is pointless as, when it’s your time, it’s your time.

I wanted to dislike this movie, I know that’s unfair and I
shouldn’t admit it but I did. I suppose I’m still recovering from the
validation of my thoughts when seeing Truth
or Dare
. So much about this movie could have gone down a path to
sucksville. First, the tech angle, which has seen more strikeouts then the San
Francisco Giants…I guess, I don’t really follow baseball. Then there’s the
second piece which borrows heavily from the Final Destination series, this time
in the form of “The Angel of Death” but hears the truth, this is a very
standard but very serviceable horror flick that does it’s job and does it well.
It takes the most overused trope in horror, the jump scare, and employs it with
skill. There is nothing wrong with a jump scare…hell even if you’re making Jump Scare: The Movie and that’s all
you’re relying on, that’s fine, as long as you know what you’re about and you
do that one thing well. The other thing I was surprised about is the story, it’s
actually pretty engaging and while it does stay on a standard level the inclusion
of the angel of death gives a face to the evil that seems to elevate the story
around it. Some people are going to undoubtedly find the “lore” behind the app
silly, I mean even I can laugh a bit at the term “Latin Source Code” but the
film, and to their credit the actors, play it just seriously enough to keep you
from getting out of the film space.

If you’re going to start listing the negative side of things
you’d start with how thin the story itself actually is. While I did enjoy the
lore that was created for the movie I really felt like there could have been a
more original take, as I said earlier it borrows heavily from the Final
Destination series and I wasn’t lying, the movie could be seen as Final Destination
(or whatever number we stopped on) with a cell phone angle. This even goes
right down to the whole ‘upset the order to stop the bad guy’ idea that drove
the finale of so many of those movies. Lastly, while you couldn’t really call
it a happy ending, I was kind of hoping for less of a “walk into the sunset”
situation before the credits rolled.
You’re not going to see Countdown
reunions 20 years from now but as far as a Friday night date movie near Halloween,
you could do worse. It’s 90 quick minutes of adrenaline amping shock and scare,
can you really ask more from a horror film like this? Well, I should rephrase,
you should always ask for more from these movies but expect nothing less. You’ll
leave the theater having jumped no less than 5 times and be running on a pseudo-high
from the adrenaline, the movie pulls out of you. That’s worth 10 bucks if you
ask me.
2.5 Out of 5