Countdown is a hugely entertaining version of the biggest problem with horror movies 2 years ago

Countdown is a hugely entertaining version of the biggest problem with horror movies

Released in Irish cinemas just in time for Halloween.



There need to be rules.

If we don't know what the rules are, then we don't know what to be afraid of.

It was the biggest difference between the quality of It: Chapter One and It: Chapter Two. When it became clear that Pennywise didn't HAVE to wait until they were at their most afraid to chow down on them, you begin to wonder why he didn't just kill all of the Loser's Club immediately.

If he could turn into pretty much whatever he wanted, why always the clown? The rules didn't make any sense, so the movie stopped being scary.


Which is something that happens A LOT in Countdown, but the thing is that Countdown seems to be in on this problem, and counteracts that by throwing as many jump-scares at you as it possibly can. And, somehow, it kind of works.

The plot falls between the two stools of Black Mirror and Final Destination, involving an app that tells you with an ominous countdown how long you have left to live. Focusing on a nice nurse lady (Elizabeth Lail, equally unlucky in the first season of You), who is told she has just three days to live, most of which she seems to be spend fighting off the sexual advances made by her boss (Peter Facinelli, that vampire dad from Twilight).

She crosses paths with another person who has downloaded the app and has a similarly short lifespan (Jordan Calloway, there so our leading lady has someone to bone later on), and they visit a kooky priest (P.J. Byrne, because we're guessing T.J. Miller and Josh Gad were busy) who tells them... well, this is where all starts to fall apart.

There is something about an ancient demon, who would torture particular victims with visions in the hours leading up their deaths, but quite how this demon took a software development class and got the app on to the Apple Store isn't ever really approached.


Neither is the fact that if this was indeed when these folk were going to die, that isn't really the apps fault, is it? If they weren't to know, they'd just die anyway, but without the knowledge that it was going to happen?

There are so many questions left dangling, and Countdown is completely comfortable with answering zero of them. Instead it will bludgeon you with well-timed jump scares that are guaranteed to send the popcorn flying. Now, jump scares are the fart jokes of the horror world. More often than not, you'll roll your eyes out of contempt because you've became accustomed to a better brand of scare, but sometimes, if it is timed just right, a good jump scare (like a good fart joke) will get the desired reaction.

And that will happen a lot throughout Countdown. The quiet, then the LOUD jump, and then the nervous giggling in the audience. It would give hope that director Justin Dec has potential in the horror genre if he were to get his hands on a decent script, except that he also wrote the screenplay for Countdown.

Hopefully, next time, he'll be as interested in the set-up as he is in the pay-off.


Countdown is released in Irish cinemas from Friday 25 October.

Clip via STX Entertainment