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Countdown (2019)

Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/21/2020

All Ratings out of




Extras: No Extras

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/3/2020

Modern life can be very scary.  This statement is true today and it’s been true…well, forever.  Due to the fact that astute humans always have a sense of anxiety, those who make scary movies often capitalize on these modern horrors.  Whether it be the fear of nuclear war in the 1950s or the existential dread brought on by the Vietnam War in the 1970s or the body horrors inspired by new diseases in the 1980s, scary movies often reflect societies fears either symbolically or overtly.  Given how most people can live without their cell phones, it’s not surprising that filmmakers have brought these ubiquitous devices into their repertoire.  Films like One Missed Call and App have focused on this, and now we have the new entry Countdown.  Will it make you want to put down your phone and pay attention?

Quinn Harris (Elizabeth Lail) is a nursing student who is about to become a full-fledged RN.  One day, she’s working with an anxious teen named Evan (Dillon Lane), who claims that an app had predicted that his girlfriend was going to die and that according to the timeline given on the app, he wasn’t going to survive his surgery.  Quinn looks into the app and is soon confronted with her own impending death date.  She wants to believe that it’s all a hoax, but when evidence points to the contrary, she begins to investigate further.  She soon meets Matt (Jordan Calloway) who is facing his own deadline.  They join forces with a maverick priest, Father John (P.J. Byrne), to try and find a way to stop the Grim Reaper from coming.

Countdown is the feature-film debut of Writer/Director Justin Dec, who was made some shorts in the past and worked as a Production Assistant on many projects.  It’s obvious that he paid attention during this time, as the movie has a nice look and good camera-work.  The 90-minute running-time is exactly what a horror movie should have and the pacing works well.  The casting director has done a fine job of mixing young actors with veterans like Peter Facinelli and Tichina Arnold.  And it’s interesting to see Lail, star of the Netflix hit One, in another role.

Those things aside, Countdown is a failure due to problems with the story.  First of all, the overall plot and the film’s entire vibe is a rip-off of the Final Destination series.  As we watch these characters attempt to escape death and change their fates, one can’t help but think about those movies.  The problem is that even the worst Final Destination entry was at least interesting due to the Rube Goldberg-like death scenes.  We don’t get anything like that here.  Worse, the rules in Countdown don’t make any sense.  The individuals download the app and it tells them how long they have to live.  And, if they do something to avoid an obviously unsafe situation, they are told that they’ve voided the app’s user agreement and are thus in peril.  So, let me get this straight, they are going to die and if they change that, they die anyway?  Therefore, welcome to a film which feels useless and dispense with any suspense given that the characters are literally damned if they do and damned if they don’t.  There’s also the fact that the explanation for the app’s existence and purpose don’t really pass muster.

Given that more and more companies are pushing apps (often encouraging consumers to utilize the app over a website for some reason), it makes sense that we would get another horror movie which demonizes these ubiquitous items.  A “killer app” may seemed clichéd at this point, but, in the right hands, that could yield an interesting movie.  Unfortunately, Countdown has taken a simple idea and made it overly complex and hopelessly vague.  The clash of new technology and old mysticism tries to give the film a unique edge, but that falls flat as well.  I admired the film’s spirit and it’s attempts at creating a creepy atmosphere, but, in the end, this is one app which I would delete.

Countdown goes on the “Do Not Call List” on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment.  The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 28 Mbps.  The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials.  The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright.  The level detail is pleasing to the eye and the depth works well.  The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps.  The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects.  The mix presented here is very effective and plays well with the film’s horror aesthetic, as we get copious surround sound and subwoofer effects during the “scary” scenes.  There are some very nice moments in the hospital where sounds are coming from different parts of the room and they are well-represented in the front and rear channels.

The Countdown Blu-ray Disc contains no extra features.

Review Copyright 2020 by Mike Long