Let’s get the new app.
Hey, let’s watch a movie about a haunted phone app. Why? I don’t know.
The whole plot of this movie is: let’s take The Ring and Final Destination in a phone app setting and go with it.
Our main character Quinn (Elizabeth Lail) downloads an app called Countdown after it predicts the correct time of two deaths. She discovers she only has a couple of days and must race to uncover the little girl in the well, or learn that death is fate—oh wait, wrong movie, this one has a curse or some shit.
I didn’t realize this was a PG-13 horror outing until about halfway through. Granted, I was curious why we were so squeamish on showing any violence. I originally thought it was due to being cheap, but no, this was done to get more teenagers into the seats.
A horror film doesn’t have to be gory to be scary, but it does need to have some actual scares. In this one, the best we get are lazy jumpscares. None of the context or lore is terrifying. There isn’t any creep here beyond the natural adrenaline folks get when watching a horror film.
Audience and critic scores are quite divided here. Audiences seem to be giving this one an overall pass while critics are eviscerating it. You can probably guess which side I am on, but I don’t want to dismiss the audience reviews.
This film is competently made. It functions well enough that it reads like a textbook PG-13 horror film. We have intro with a couple deaths, main character infected (insert whatever term you want here, I suppose haunted makes more sense), complicated personal life, ally to help and be sacrificed, false resolution, resolution, sequel bait. While this is little more than Diet Final Destination it also hits a lot of the needed tropes of a horror film. Don’t get me wrong, this is a bad movie that was made with the lowest common denominator in mind, but horror is so known at this point that they were able to do this and churn out something that functions.
Fans of horror who don’t have access to rated R entries are basically fucked. This is the best they’re going to get because this is all studios are going to invest in. In this way, if this movie gets people interested in horror I suppose it is a good thing, Sure, it banal and stupid, but look through all of the PG-13 horror films released in the last couple of years—this one is about as good as the rest of them. That previous sentence makes me sad.
Countdown is cynical mass-market pop-horror at its highest powers. The infinitely better Gretel and Hansel (which is also PG-13) demands things from the audience, so it might not attract folks looking for a cheap scare. However, maybe we should encourage more thoughtful films at this rating.
The best part of this movie is that you’ll forget about it quite quickly. I try to write these reviews within a couple hours of watching a film, so you all get my initial impression. I got tied up today, so this is about 24 hours later and I honestly cannot remember most of the movie. Instead of making fun of the fans of this, let’s try to sneak them into a better movie.