Director: Justin Dec
Cast: Elizabeth Lail, Jordan Calloway, Talitha Bateman
Release Date: January 21, 2020
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 5/10
Disc Rating: 6.5/10
When a young nurse (Elizabeth Lail) downloads an app that claims to predict exactly when a person is going to die, it tells her she only has three days to live. With time ticking away and death closing in, she must find a way to save her life before time runs out.
‘Countdown’ tells the modern horror story of a young nurse who after being told by a disturbed patient about a phone app that can predict the amount of time you have remaining to live reluctantly installs the application in an attempt at fun after all of her co-workers do so. But when she realizes that she supposedly won’t be living anywhere near the ripe old age of her friends and associates, it sends her off trying to change upcoming plans in an attempt to thwart the possibility, albeit believing the app to be nothing more than goofy fun. But when she starts seeing unexplainable and unsettling things then soon realizes it’s impossible to remove the app from her phone, she befriends another with a similar fate lingering in an attempt to find a way of stopping their countdowns from coming to fruition.
Written and directed by Justin Dec who does a capable job for the most part at the helm of ‘Countdown’ which also marks his feature length directing and writing debut, guiding along the activity smoothly enough and consistently managing to get the most of the cast. The film’s cast is largely comprised of less familiar faces and includes Elizabeth Lail (TV’s You), Jordan Calloway (TV’s Black Lightning), Talitha Bateman (Geostorm), Tichina Arnold (TV’s The Neighborhood), P.J. Byrne (TV’s Big Little Lies) and Peter Facinelli (TV’s Supergirl) along with more, the majority of which actually deliver surprisingly competent and on-point performances in each of their respective roles and as a result do wonders to make this one work even as well as it does.
With a concept that smartly plays off of our modern obsession with technology, ‘Countdown’ explores the idea of an app that give you a glimpse at precisely how long you have remaining in your life, and results in unpleasant, supernatural repercussions should you try to tamper with anything or attempt to remove the app from your phone. Unfortunately for all of the potential terror and fun to be had with this general premise, ‘Countdown’ continually struggles to find a grip on something solid, but only ends up flitting off to the next attempt without ever truly finding its way. Fortunately it does offer a couple of slightly fun (albeit cheap) jump scares and a clever enough story to keep your attention most of the time.
For a film that flew so far under the radar and made nearly no noise, it’s undeniably troubled, yet actually still somewhat better than expected, at least in a few departments. The quite competent cast and smooth guidance are undeniable benefits serving in its favor, along with offering some clever concepts in its general story, even if it seems unable to figure out precisely what to do with it all in the long run. For those of you already somewhat excited for this one (or just discovering it and finding yourself more intrigued than expected) it’s probably work taking the time to give a chance, although I would strongly encourage going in without too high of expectations if possible and at least renting the film before dropping the money on a blind purchase of the Blu-ray release just to be safe.
Overall, ‘Countdown’ certainly isn’t a horrid film, although it is a bit of a hit and miss horror outing that finds itself bogged down by its progression (or lack thereof) but offers some fun concepts and ideas along with a capable cast that helps to somewhat balance everything out. While many genre fans and those already intrigued by the film may want to make a point of checking out ‘Countdown’ at some point, I wouldn’t overly encourage those that are uninterested or uncertain to go out of your way to do so. If you’re excited about ‘Countdown’ already it definitely wouldn’t hurt to go ahead and at least rent it, yet those folks that are more on the fence will probably be content waiting for it to eventually appear on your favorite premium channel or streaming service down the road.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Countdown’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks wonderful as a whole and offers a sharp and nicely detailed presentation from start to finish, with no notable problems or issues to be uncovered along the way. It holds up admirably even during the numerous notably dark sequences, never causing anything occurring onscreen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a great high definition video presentation from Universal that should more than satisfy the fans as well as casual viewers.
The Blu-ray release features a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack makes a nice complement and offers a smooth, clean and fairly active audio presentation throughout. It frequently takes advantage of all five available channels in order to send music, creepy effects along with nature elements and more throughout the various speakers whenever appropriate, and never allowing any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible in the process. Overall, this is a solid 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that delivers in every necessary way while also contributing some extra fun to the viewing experience.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Countdown’ does not include any bonus content whatsoever.