[Screen It]


(2019) (Elizabeth Lail, Jordan Calloway) (PG-13)

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Horror: A nurse must contend with the discovery that a countdown app on her phone is indicating the actual time of her upcoming death.
Courtney (ANNE WINTERS) is a teenager who's somewhat unsettled to learn -- via a phone app called Countdown -- that she has only hours to live. She seems to dodge higher chances of that by refusing to ride home with her intoxicated boyfriend, Evan (DILLON LANE), but meets her demise at home by herself anyway via a supernatural encounter.

Evan ends up in a hospital where he's cared for by nurse Quinn Harris (ELIZABETH LAIL) who works for head nurse, Nurse Amy (TICHINA ARNOLD), and must contend with unwelcome sexual advances from Dr. Sullivan (PETER FACINELLI). But with surgery scheduled for his injuries and also having little time left according to the Countdown app, Evan's understandably nervous. As is Quinn, especially after Evan dies and she decides to try the app only to learn she has less than three days left.

She also discovers that the same holds true for her estranged younger sister Jordan (TALITHA BATEMAN), and thus Quinn goes to phone shop owner Derek (TOM SEGURA) in hopes that he can delete the seemingly irremovable app from her phone. It's there that she meets Matt Monroe (JORDAN CALLOWAY), a young man in the same predicament and they eventually make their way to Father John (PJ BYRNE) in hopes that he can help from a religious standpoint.

With her hours counting down, Quinn races against time to try to keep the app -- and the demon that's controlling it -- from killing her.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
Aside from those who take their own lives and others who are executed for heinous crimes they committed, few of the rest of us know when we're going to die. Sure, it you're over one hundred years of age or have a terminal illness, you likely know your time is probably fairly limited. For everyone else, however, it could be in fifty years, a decade, next month or -- for some -- in the next minute.

With that in mind, it's been said that if you knew the exact time of your death, you might live life differently. That's probably true for some folks, but if I know how most people operate, they're procrastinators who ignore deadlines. Thus, and especially if they're otherwise in decent to good health, they'd probably put off finishing checking off their bucket list items until the bitter, rushed end.

A number of websites have been around for a while that "predict" when you'll die, but those are just rough generalizations that rely on national averages rather than any one person's individual specifics. Accordingly, they could be somewhat accurate to wildly off, and obviously don't take into account accidents and other such unexpected and sudden events. But what if some supernaturally-based seer element was involved in such a site or, in today's increasingly mobile world, one's phone app?

That's the jumping-off point for "Countdown," a mediocre horror flick that's somewhat of a kissing cousin to the "Final Destination" and "Happy Death Day" flicks in that the main character knows when her death is going to occur and then learns that if you try to change that, well, the Grim Reaper -- in the form of, natch, an ancient demon -- ends up none too happy about your changing of his plans.

As in most such flicks, there's a precursor scene where someone else falls prey to the evil before our main character, but it's not long before we meet Quinn (Elizabeth Lail), a nurse who's caring for the recently hospitalized boyfriend of said victim. He's not so much upset by his loss or injuries, but rather that the Countdown app says he's going to die that day.

When he does and Quinn realizes the app was spot-on, her having to deal with a lecherous doctor at the hospital doesn't seem that important anymore. And that's because her countdown clock is already at t-minus three days. Oh, and since she's now broken the app's "nobody ever reads this" user agreement, she's going to be mentally tormented by visions and such until her time is up.

Writer/director Justin Dec delivers a few decent jump scares here and there, but beyond the jolts there's not much present that will get under your skin or stick with you for more than scant moments after you're done watching it. Various bits of comic relief (a hip priest, a rude phone store manager) fall into the same boat.

Yet another example of a high-concept idea that doesn't deliver enough of the goods, "Countdown" might just have you checking your watch to see how long you have left before the end credits roll. It rates as a 4 out of 10.

Reviewed October 23, 2019 / Posted October 25, 2019

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