A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Countdown is a horror movie about an app that predicts the exact moment of a user's death. Violence is the biggest issue. Characters die in startling ways, and there's blood, fighting, beating with blunt objects, a man punching a woman, and monsters. A man is sexually aggressive toward a woman, and rape is mentioned. Language is also strong and includes uses of "s--t," "bulls--t," "bitch," and a single use of "f--k." The main couple kisses and is shown sleeping in bed together. There's also some flirting and sexual suggestion. A teen drives drunk and crashes his car, and other drunk driving-related deaths are mentioned. Teens play a drinking game at a party, and social drinking is shown. E-cigarettes are used. The movie has some mildly funny moments -- as well as relevant themes around modern technology -- but it borrows heavily from much better films and ends up relying mostly on loud noises and jump scares.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In COUNTDOWN, a group of teens at a party stumbles on an app called Countdown that predicts the exact moment of a user's death. One teen is warned that she'll die that night, and -- despite the fact that she avoids a ride with her drunk boyfriend -- she still meets her end. The boyfriend dies in the hospital a few days later but passes knowledge of the app on to the hospital staff, including Quinn Harris (Elizabeth Lail), who receives the disturbing news that she'll die in a couple of days. While trying to buy a new phone, Quinn meets Matt (Jordan Calloway), who likewise has a very short lifespan. Together, they enlist the help of an obnoxious tech nerd and an enthusiastic priest to try to beat the powerful curse behind the app.
Is it any good?
Despite a few mildly amusing scenes of comic relief, this horror movie offers little more than a set of ideas borrowed from other horror movies paired with flat, dull characters. To start, Countdown doesn't really even discuss the idea of whether we as humans would want to know the exact time of our own death; the characters simply download the app as if on a lark. Death doesn't mean much here, and the characters aren't very smart. The terror cooked up by writer-director Justin Dec consists mainly of jump scares or sudden, loud noises; it's more nerve-jangling than actually scary.
The techie (Tom Segura) and the priest (P.J. Byrne) offer a couple of laughs, but those end up feeling misplaced due to the seriousness and shallowness of the rest of the movie. The scariest moments -- usually involving mirrors or shadows -- are clearly copied from better movies. Even the main idea was better used in the Final Destination movies, which were almost existential in their simplicity, and the Ring series, which had a much clearer, more terrifying idea. Countdown actually comes closer to bad movies like Bedeviled (also about an evil app) and The Bye Bye Man, about curiosity leading to death. Like those, this movie will likely be forgotten, and that's something you can count on.
Talk to your kids about ...
Would you want to know the exact time of your death? Why or why not? Do you think the movie is trying to make a particular statement about technology? If so, what is it?
How scary is the movie? What's the appeal of horror movies? Why do we like being scared?
What does the movie have to say about drinking and driving? Is it a clear message, with consequences?
How does the movie treat sexually aggressive behavior? How is the situation handled? What are the consequences?
- In theaters: October 25, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: January 21, 2020
- Cast: Elizabeth Lail, Jordan Calloway, Talitha Bateman
- Director: Justin Dec
- Studio: STX Entertainment
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: terror, violence, bloody images, suggestive material, language and thematic elements
- Last updated: May 12, 2021
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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