Film Review: Countdown

Review By Frances Winston 

Written by: Justin Dec – Starring: Elizabeth Lail, Jordan Calloway, Talitha Bateman, Tichina Arnold, P.J. Byrne, Peter Facinelli, Anne Winters, Tom Segura

Reviews of this movie were embargoed until the morning of release. This usually fills me with dread, as historically it has meant that a movie is not very good, and the distributors are hoping to prevent poor advance reviews influencing cinema-goers.

The fact that it’s a horror flick, and it’s Halloween season (when numerous questionable movies are released) only served to increase my apprehension at having to sit through 90 minutes of this. So to say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement. The fact that the embargo was moved to Thursday evening when I was midway through writing this, perhaps also showed that the distributors had more faith in it than I originally thought.

OK, it’s not going to go down in the annals of horror classics, and it is full of clichés, plot-holes and caricatures. But it also wears its tongue firmly in its cheek, and has a huge amount of humour, plenty of old-school scares to make you jump, a likeable female lead, and oodles of heart.

Lail stars as Quinn Harris, a young nurse who downloads an app that purports to tell you when you are about to die. While her colleagues are thrilled to learn that they are set to live long lives, troublingly, her app says she has just days to live. With time ticking away, and after falling victim to some increasingly dark encounters, she realises that there is more to this app than just a bit of fun. As her clock continues to count down, she must confront her past, and her darkest fears, in order to try and break the curse.

Yes, the plot is pretty rote – I refer you to my clichéd remark. It’s basically Final Destination updated somewhat for the iPhone generation (the original good Final Destination – not the increasingly bonkers sequels.) However, they also manage to have a less-than-subtle and extremely in-your-face OTT dig at sexual predators, and highlight #metoo, while adhering to all the cheesy rules of teen-slasher flicks.

It is helped by the fact that Lail has earned her creepy credentials, co-starring in stalker thriller, You, on Netflix, and she is extremely likeable here. However, Peter Facinelli is super sleazy as the predatory doctor that preys on Quinn, and all his scenes feel a little awkward. It’s a long way from the Twilight films (and what has he done to his face – just saying,)

There is a great mix of humour and horror here. The jumps are old-school. It’s the banging of the door, the lights going out, a hand suddenly touching the shoulder… FX are not exploited here, and the movie is all the better for it.

As I have already said, this is not a horror classic. But it is extremely good fun. The underlying feminist message might feel a bit forced at times, but it doesn’t dominate the film. It’s the kind of movie that you can sit back, not think about, and enjoy your popcorn and the romp on the screen.

It’s far more enjoyable than I expected, and will leave you pleasantly entertained with a smile on your face. Not the usual result from a horror movie, but a result none the less.

In Cinemas Now!

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