I can’t tell you how many times I have sat in a theater, viewing trailer after trailer, shouting out, “oh, that is gonna be good!” Sometimes I am right, but sometimes I am totally and utterly wrong. On the other hand, there are times when I completely dismiss a film based on a preview that looks downright awful, only to be surprised by the actual full-length film. That is exactly what happened with Justin Dec’s Countdown.
After downloading an app that is counting down the days left on her life, a young nurse must figure out a way to beat the clock and the demonic figure following her, before it is too late.
I remember seeing, and scoffing at, the trailer for Countdown more than once over the last few months. I thought it looked like just another lame, modern-day technology-driven PG-13 horror flick that was going to be a big flop at the box office. While some of my assumptions were correct — it is technologically driven, it is in fact rated PG-13, and I do believe it did rather poorly — I am extremely surprised at how much I enjoyed this one.
Even when I thought I would hate it, the trailer at least offered me a glimpse at a few familiar faces. There were actors who I hadn’t seen in quite a while and some younger talent who I had only become acquainted with in the past year or so. Those older faces, Tichina Arnold (“Martin”) and Valente Rodriguez (“George Lopez”), joined by the younger, more fresh faces of Elizabeth Lail (Netflix’s “You”) and Jordan Calloway (the CW’s “Black Lightning”) all did a wonderful job with their respective roles.
Lail, our main protagonist, Nurse Quinn Harris, does a remarkable job of proving that she can certainly be the lead of a full-length movie. While I was already a fan of her work in the series “You,” her performance here really solidifies, to me at least, that she is someone to look out for.
All of the names I have provided here come from different backgrounds, most of which are episodic series, but it is safe to say that their combined body of work is proof enough that they are all talented individuals.
Add on top of that the comedic relief, sprinkled throughout, by P.J. Byrne (The Wolf of Wall Street) as the excitable and geeky priest, Father John, and you have a very well-rounded cast of actors.
Countdown doesn’t waste any time throwing its audience into the thick of it all. Almost immediately, we are introduced to this new phone app, Countdown. It is described as an app that simply tells you when you will die. Once you download it, you must agree to the Terms and Conditions that accompany almost everything we use on a daily basis in this day and age, and your fate is inevitably etched in stone.
Within 10 minutes, the app claims its first victim and while Countdown is rated PG-13, it doesn’t stop writer/director Justin Dec from having his victims meet their demise in rather heinous ways. The genius part of it all is exactly how he does it.
PG-13 films are never known for their explicit violence or gore. The genius of Dec and his director of photography is that they’ve shot the death scenes in a way where they are just out of focus, but still 100% completely in frame. While you can’t see with crystal clarity any of the bloody stuff, it is still pretty evident that the victims are dying in brutal fashion.
This technique is not used often, so I was extremely impressed with the decision to shoot kills this way. It is done more than once throughout the film’s 90 minutes, but I can assure you that it is indeed effective every single time.
To me, Countdown is a new take on the Final Destination franchise that I’ve missed so dearly. It is a more modern rendition of a tale as old as time — meeting ones fate and how they decide to cope with it — for a younger generation of horror fans.
Would you try to escape death, if you knew when your time was coming up? Or would you simply lay down and just let fate take control?
Countdown at Home
Justin Dec’s Countdown is available now on Digital, and will be available on Blu-ray and DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, January 20, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
The Blu-ray disc is presented in a pristine 1080p HD 2.39:1 Widescreen format with English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English DVS Dolby Digital 2.0 audio tracks, while the DVD contains an Anamorphic 2.39:1 Widescreen picture and English Dolby 5.1 and English DVS Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks. Both discs contain optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
While I would have actually loved to have seen some behind-the-scenes featurettes on the making of Countdown, I am sad to say that the new home release from Universal is a bare bones one. We are not treated to any type of supplemental features whatsoever.
If we never get another Final Destination film, but instead get a sequel or two from Justin Dec’s film, I would honestly be all for it.
I haven’t heard much regarding Countdown, but I am extremely surprised at how much fun it was.
The performances are great all around and the effects, both practical and digital, are actually quite impressive. It is clever when it needs to be and funny enough to break up the more fear-inducing scenes.
If you take your horror extremely seriously, skip this one. If you, however, like to just shut your brain down for a bit and want to have fun, give Countdown a chance. I think this film needs to be watched by more people, so that it can possibly receive the sequel that I personally feel it deserves.
Pickup a copy of Countdown today, as I give it 4 days, 12 hours, 6 minutes, and 10 seconds out of 5.