Death? There’s a film for that.
For a movie where death is ubiquitous, we see hardly any of it in Countdown. It has the formula of a slasher flick with no one to slash, trudging along for 90 minutes to see if nurse Quinn Harris (Elizabeth Lail) surpasses the expectancy presented to her via an app that counts down a user’s life to the second. Studio horror films are in an age of commercial proliferation – produced for cheap and guaranteed to be profitable – so the mystery of Quinn’s fate is dissipated before the STX logo even rolls up, for the premise alone signals franchise potential.
The protagonist is joined in her plight by Matt (Jordan Calloway), who’s also given under 48 hours to live, and her phone-addicted younger sister Jordan (Talitha Eliana Bateman). The tether to life for both Matt and the Harris siblings is the memory of their dead relatives, whose spectres are exploited by the app’s fiends to provide jump scares. But opting to employ literal demons over tapping into technophobic fears proves a sham. Countdown aims for similar thrills, laughs and heart to Happy Death Day but doesn’t give us the bandwidth to care about the narrative or personalities at the centre. It festers at the foundations of development – Crappy Death Day, if you will.
Comedian Tom Segura tries to salvage some of the entertainment value as a funny phone shop owner, but he’s weighed down by everything else. In one of the more flagrant attempts to be more meme than movie, we’re introduced to a pot-smoking preacher blasting Panini by Lil Nas X. The difference is, memes are viral entertainment – this is just a virus.
With the bags of thematic potential here, the only expression writer-director Justin Dec offers beyond the literal is that we should read the terms and conditions carefully. There’s one condition he missed: anyone unfortunate enough to see his movie should be prepared to immediately uninstall it from their memory.
Countdown is released in select cinemas on 25th October 2019.
Watch the trailer for Countdown here: