Countdown movie brings ridiculed fears to life

Emma Niland, Staff Writer

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By Emma Niland

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers, but readers will be notified when to stop reading if they do not wish to read them.

I have always wanted to know when I’m supposed to die, and I think many others have too. But after seeing Countdown last weekend with my little sister, I have mixed feelings. Even if the movie was a farce. 

Based on the app that tells you when you’re supposed to die, the Countdown movie portrayed the opinion that maybe knowing when you’re going to die isn’t the best. Basically, when you download the app, your name is input into the system, and when your life timer “runs out,” a supernatural creature, or “demon” as it’s referred to in the film, kills you. 

The concept seems silly, especially when compared to other supernatural horror movies such as The Conjuring or Insidious, but what made this movie horrifying for me was the jump scares of demonic-looking faces. Of course, every horror movie has its own version of jump scares, but for some reason the ones in this film hit me different. 

Maybe it’s because I saw it in the actual movie theater instead of in my room with my hands over my eyes. 

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

The central plot goes like this: Protagonist Quinn, played by Elizabeth Lail, works as a nurse at a local hospital in a small town, when she learns that one of her patients—Evan, played by Dillon Lane—has somehow found out when he is supposed to die based off of the Countdown app. Quinn thinks Evan is just nervous for his rapidly approaching surgery, but Evan’s app says he is supposed to die while he is in surgery, so Quinn begins to ponder the thought of the app’s legitimacy. And as it turns out, Evan tries to avoid his fate of dying during his surgery by going to the stairwell, where the demon kills him just as his countdown on his phone says 0 years, 0 months, 0 weeks, 0 days, 0 hours, 0 minutes, 0 seconds. 

This scene was particularly haunting, for just as his phone screen is displayed with seemingly no time left on the countdown, Evan is abruptly shown, dead as a door. And let’s not forget the scary sound that’s played one too many times throughout the movie when the app user is about to die: an awful, horrifying screech.

Quinn decides to download the app after talking to her coworkers, and finds that she’s supposed to die in about three days. She quickly begins to experience the side effects of this app, including being haunted by the dead, especially by those who she shared a connection to. This is what made the movie especially haunting, for the jump scares of dead Evan, particularly the one where he pops out behind her laptop screen, scared the heck out of me. Nothing like a good jump scare mixed with state-of-the-art special effects to get you screaming in the middle of a movie theater!

Of course, her suspicions are now in full speed, and she tries to find ways to get the app off of her phone, including getting a new phone completely, but the app comes back regardless, making that same ear-splitting screech. She then finds out that her sister Jordan, played by Talitha Bateman, also got the app—despite Quinn’s pleading not to—and is supposed to die at about the same time as her.

Along Quinn’s search of how to get rid of the app, she meets Matt, played by Jordan Calloway, who also has the app and, because movie producers have incredible senses of irony, he’s upcoming death is only a few hours before Quinn’s. 

Embarking on a journey to find out the origin of this app and how to solve their dilemmas, they meet Father John, played by P.J. Byrne, who is seemingly the only one who believes in demons and who is willing to help them. At this point, Quinn and Matt have roughly one day to live. 

After reading biblical literature, Father John tells them that their “curse” is a result of the actions of the demon Ozhin, and that the only way one can avoid his or her fate is to stop trying to avoid the death date that is approaching him or her. In other words, if you don’t want the scary demon to come after you and kill you, stop trying to avoid your inevitable death! Easy, right? 

With just hours left on Matt’s countdown, they prepare a “warding circle” to protect themselves from Ozhin, but Matt is lured outside of the protective circle by images of his dead brother, created by yours truly, Ozhin.

Quinn leaves the circle as well to try to save him once Ozhin gets a hold of Matt, and once they get outside, they believe that they lost Ozhin and were safe, that is until Matt is struck by a car and smashed into a tree. Arguably one of the most gruesome scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie. 

Learning that her sister was harmed, Quinn takes Jordan to the hospital and decides to lure her creepy, harassing boss Dr. Sullivan, played by Peter Facinelli, into the abandoned wing of the hospital. Because Sullivan also downloaded the app, Quinn realizes that if she kills him before he’s supposed to die (according to the app), the curse will be broken and her and Jordan will be saved. So, she then attempts to kill him, but Sullivan is somehow saved by Ozhin, who realizes Quinn’s plan.

Now this is where the best part of the movie begins. To save her sister, Quinn kills herself, breaking the curse and causing Ozhin to literally explode, releasing ear-splitting noises (which nearly blew out the movie theather’s speakers, may I add). 

Jordan, crying uncontrollably, shakes Quinn’s body helplessly, and finds an X on Quinn’s arm with the word “Narcan” and a line towards the X (Narcan is a drug used to reverse the effects of narcotics in drug overdoses). Jordan finds a syringe and a bottle of Narcan in Quinn’s pocket, and using the syringe to inject the anti-drug into Quinn’s arm, she revives her sister just as their timers run out. 

At last, their troubles are behind them, and the two sisters go with their dad to visit their mother’s grave. They’re now closer than ever before, and are excited to spend more time with each other, until… 

Quinn gets a notification that an app called “Countdown 2” has just been downloaded by itself onto her phone. The movie ends with, of course, scary music and an uncomfortable, on-edge feeling. 

As someone who usually hates scary movies, I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this film. I think I can owe that to the fact that this movie has a legitimate plot to it; it wasn’t just a dead person haunting a helpless family in a creepy old house.

Earning just 30 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, one would assume this movie is silly or wouldn’t leave lasting impacts on its viewers. But I can tell you that’s false. After watching this movie, I immediately deleted the Countdown app from my phone, and I have no shame whatsoever.