Make no bones about it: writer/director Justin Dec’s contemporary cyber horror Countdown has been influenced by the Final Destination series, a franchise that toyed with ideas of existentialism and then devolved into outrageous collections of gruesome spectacles.
Countdown reflects the earlier days of Final Destination with its concept of a clairvoyant app that allows users to know the date and time of their death. Those who are given a distant date laugh off the gimmicky tech, but those who are given an immediate deadline have palpitations. They worry about the legitimacy of the app, and spend their days wondering how it’ll happen. The paranoia ends up becoming a problem for Countdown, as characters become more aware of peculiarities around them. At first, Dec proposes the clever idea that these self-sufficient deviations from obvious danger is a breach of the app’s terms and conditions – y’know, that long scroll of text nobody reads upon installation. But, the plot hinges on characters straying away from their fate and making room for the app’s alternative conclusion of having a generic demonic entity kill the user in underwhelming ways. The movie isn’t sure if it wants to make semi-subtle philosophical points about staying in control of your own fate, or cash-in on teenagers wanting a quick-and-easy horror movie – the finished film falls somewhere in the middle.
Countdown has fleeting spurts of intelligence and interest that are squandered on a mediocre execution. Its aspirations of matching the skill of the first Final Destination unravel to rival the aloof negligence of the franchise’s weaker sequels.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie