How Scary Is ‘Countdown’? You May Give Up Your Phone For Good
The tagline for the new horror movie Countdown, hitting theaters Oct. 25, paraphrases an old iPhone commercial. The flick imagines a world where there's even an app for predicting your own demise, in other words: "Death? There's an app for that." And since Countdown is very much a part of the genre, that death is usually a horribly gruesome one. The trailer features a few of those and some other genuinely chilling moments. But is Countdown just your run-of-the-mill slasher movie?
Countdown focuses on Quinn (Elizabeth Lail), a young nurse who downloads a popular new app that says it knows exactly when its user will die. She's skeptical of its purported accuracy, but downloads it anyway and eventually finds out she has less than three days to live. From there, she turns to her friends to search for a way to beat the clock, all the while learning about other skeptics' ghastly deaths, which all arrived exactly when the app said they would.
One of those deaths is particularly disturbing, and it's featured in the trailer. As one woman's countdown reaches zero, she's suddenly pulled up into the air by a mysterious, unseen force. The camera slowly zooms in on her phone and the zeroed-out clock. In the background, she falls from the ceiling in her bathroom and cracks her head against the side of her tub. It's a spooky moment, and one that's meant to suggest that there's more to the app than meets the eye. Something supernatural may be going on.
A recent TV ad for the movie features some night-vision-captured reactions of a few horrified audience members. If you're as sensitive as these folks, it's a safe bet that you'll experience some solid scares and gross-out moments. Of special note in the commercial: the shot of someone's feet breaking underneath the bathroom stall.
The commercial also shows off a few more of the supernatural elements: strange ghosts or demon-like specters appear to torment Quinn and her friends, resulting in some jump scares. That Hashtag Show calls these out in their review, writing that while there are plenty of those, Countdown "also has tense moments that build and build. Your blood pressure rises seeing what could be coming and the scares don’t feel cheap very often." Formulaic cheap thrills can really drag down a horror film, so it's reassuring to hear that the frights in Countdown are built up properly.
Director Justin Dec is certainly no stranger to properly cultivating those frights, as evidenced by this three-year-old short he posted on Vimeo. Also titled Countdown, it has more or less the same premise: a woman downloads an app — this one plays Sheb Wooley's 1958 earworm "Purple People Eater" — that counts down to what can only be described as a genuinely spooky encounter with her partner.
This short offers a possible taste of what the upcoming film might have to offer in the tension-building department. Jury's still out on whether "Purple People Eater" will make an appearance, though.