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‘Countdown’: cheesy and flawed horror film fails to deliver a scare

Quinn Harris (Elizabeth Lail) downloads an app that tells her she has only three days to live. (STX Films)

“Countdown” is a flawed horror film riddled with clichés.

Directed and written by Justin Dec, “Countdown” tells the story of Quinn Harris (Elizabeth Lail), a nurse who downloads an app that claims to predict exactly how much time a person has left to live. When the app tells Harris that she only has three days to live, she tries to find a way to save her life before her countdown ends.

“Countdown” carries some heavy clichés as most mainstream horror films usually do.

The writing and dialogue are horrid, the acting is atrocious, and the narrative is as captivating as watching paint dry.

The narrative lacks any substance and is purely surface level, as far as mainstream horror film narratives go. Due to this, “Countdown” must rely on overused horror clichés that are seen way too often in horror films, such as jump scares.

The jump scares in “Countdown,” were predictable. In the film, the tension would build up with characters anticipating an attack, yet nothing would happen. However, as soon as a character let their guard down, a jump scare would occur.

This formulaic approach to horror is bland, unoriginal and is reflective of how mainstream cinema is plagued with these clichés.

The biggest flaw with “Countdown,” however, was how often the movie would hold the audience’s hand when delivering the narrative.

I’m a big believer in the effectiveness of the “show, don’t tell” approach to film. Instead of having a narrator or characters explain the plot to the audience, the film should show us what’s happening through other means of cinematic storytelling, like cinematography, character development, and character arcs.

However, Dec is not confident enough that his audience will understand the film’s plot, so he has his characters over-explain everything that’s happening in the film through dialogue — ruining the narrative’s pacing.

I also did not appreciate how “Countdown” killed off the only African American character in the film. One could also argue that having just one African American character would be an example of tokenism.

But I digress, “Countdown” is not a complete train-wreck, as there are some redeemable aspects of the film. For example, comedian Tom Segura’s character serves as comedic relief. Besides, that, “Countdown” doesn’t have much else to offer.

“Countdown” is an overtly flawed, yet cheesy horror movie. I would only recommend it as a film to go with a group of friends to talk trash about.

Rating: 2.5/5 stars.

Angel Ortega can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AngelOrtegaNews.

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About the Contributor
Angel Ortega, A&E Editor
Angel Ortega is a journalism-news major with a minor in cinema studies. Angel has been on the Orion for four years, serving as both a staff writer and arts & entertainment editor. He enjoys writing artist profiles and film reviews. When he’s not working for the Orion, you can find him at a concert or music festival.

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