An app keeps making the rounds that supposedly knows the exact moment you will die. It also reaches nurse Quinn (Elizabeth Lail) at her hospital in the shape of a patient who just lost his girlfriend and is convinced he will die himself now. Quinn is doubtful, but when all her colleagues download the app, she does, too. It tells her, she has only a few days left. Quinn shakes it off – until her patient dies under suspicous circumstances. Then a race against time starts for Quinn to figure out how she can stop her own death.
I did not expect much from Countdown – and it really wasn’t any good. Too many things didn’t make sense or were ouright ridiculous. At least there was entertainment to be had in taking it apart afterwards.
So, the mystery behind the app is that there is a biblical demon who started to use technology for itself. I’m not generally opposed to combining technology and demons/ancient religious curses. I actually think it’s quite fun to consider how demons could go with the time and use technology for their own purposes. But in this case, the combination was a little clumsy.
The curse is simply written basically as the first lines of the code of the app (in Latin, of course, because everybody knows that’s the language of biblical demons), the rest of the code consisting more or less of a long list of names and their personal countdowns without any kind of ID number, because apparently, people with the same name don’t exist in this particular world. So those things were, okay, maybe a little nit-picky, but still, had me rolling my eyes. The real kicker though, was when the priest (P.J. Byrne) they consult shows them a supposedly ancient illustration of the demon’s origin story – and the scroll with the countdown shown there looks exactly like the app. They even count seconds. At this point, I was almost screaming.
But the bigger conceptual problem here is that death really isn’t that unambigious as it needs to be for the countdown to work. What is the precise moment of death? The last breath? The last brainwave? The last heartbeat? And with the solution to breaking the curse for EVERYONE being “simply don’t die at the time specified, turning the demon into a liar” and this being solved by Quinn overdosing on purpose (way too fast) and then being reanimated – isn’t it extremely likely, with modern medicine and all, that there would have been quite a few people who already had been reanimated and thus breaking the curse by accident?
I probably wouldn’t have been so obsessed with the mechanics of the curse and the story if the rest of the film had been any better. But it simply walks through all the worst clichés of a horror movie without ever hitting its stride. Everytime I felt entertained, it was in spite of what the film delivered and not because of it. It really wasn’t worth it.