Countdown’s mess of messages muddles rather than shocks


Gaia S

Cayden awaits his predicted death with the Countdown app. Graphic courtesy of Emma Lin (’20)


Whether it is the six months until Graduation Day or the one month left until Christmas, everyone is waiting for something. Everyone has their own countdowns. However, is every event meant to have a countdown – specifically death dates?

In the newly released Countdown movie, the protagonist Quinn Harris, played by Elizabeth Lail, downloads an app that tells her when she is supposed to die. The movie revolves around her and her friends as they try to live past their prescribed death dates. 

In our modern world where we spend most of our time on our phones, the premise of the movie seems fairly attractive and relatable. However, the movie itself does not live up to viewers’ expectations. It is super cliché with a very predictable plot including the hint of a sequel that ends the movie.

Quinn is a hard-working nurse who downloads the Countdown app just out of curiosity. She finds out that she only has two days left to live. Terrified, she cancels all her plans. Much to her dismay, canceling her plans means that she has changed her fate and has “broken the user agreement” with death. 

Before she starts using the app, a terms and conditions page appears, but she quickly skims past it. Agreeing to the terms and conditions of the app means that the user has agreed to lock in her fate. The ghosts of her loved ones start to haunt her until her countdown hits zero. 

Luckily, she finds a sidekick named Matt Monroe, played by Jordan Calloway, who is also being haunted by the app, set to die a few hours prior to her. She also learns that her younger sister, Jordan Harris, played by Talitha Bateman, is set to die a few minutes before her, so Quinn brings her along the journey to break the curse. 

With the help of a weird, demon-obsessed priest, they decide to risk their lives to protect Matt. 

When the priest was first introduced, I thought that he would add some comic relief to the horror of the film. However, he came off as more of a strange and useless character rather than helpful.

Throughout the movie, Quinn has been harassed by a supervising doctor, so they realize that he would be the perfect person to break their curse. 

As Quinn’s countdown comes to an end, she overdoses on drugs and sacrifices herself one second before her time runs out, successfully breaking the curse. Since she works as a nurse, her knowledge on drugs allows her little sister to revive her with a syringe of Naloxone. Quinn and Jordan luckily escape death.

The next day, Quinn receives a notification: Countdown 2.0 has been downloaded to your phone! 

Doris Yuan (‘20) and I watched the movie the week it came out. She said, “The acting and the plot of the movie was absolutely horrible, but the jump scares were really well-produced, especially with the sound effects.” 

I agree with Doris that the special effects for the movie were pretty well done. Right before the demons appeared, there would be a long period of silence to prepare the reader for a jump scare. Although that sounds like a cliché horror movie trick, it still frightened me every time. 

However, the plot and moral of the movie were confusing, and I have no idea what the point of the movie was. There are a few different messages that the movie could have sent. 

The first was that you should trust your fate and think before you act. The characters’ horrifying deaths are all caused by their own curiosity and the fact that they  did not read the rules before they started using the app. 

However, this message comes with a lot of contradictions. Quinn knows that the app comes with bad outcomes after talking to a patient in the hospital that she works in, and discovers that his girlfriend died right when the Countdown app said she would. She also witnesses the patient die mysteriously at his predicted time. She has a lot of evidence showing that she should not download the app, but she still does.

The production company has developed an app just like the one used in the movie for the audience to experience in real life. Dozens of people have downloaded the app, especially in the Webb community. Most download it after seeing memes online or reading news articles about it. In reality, Countdown is more of a joke than a serious problem, even if it deals with a serious topic like death.

Cayden Lazier (‘20) downloaded the app last week. He said, “I saw jokes about the app on Instagram and TikTok, so I thought it would be fun to download it. When the terms and conditions came up, I didn’t really care and just clicked agree. It’s all fun.” 

Matthew Gooch (‘22) downloaded and redownloaded the app ten times, and every single time he got a new death date. He said, “The first time I downloaded the app I had 63 years. Eventually, I got one that had 15 days left, and now I am dead, and the app is just going crazy. It’s all a joke.”

The app is an interesting invention, and although it could bring great outcomes for the movie’s business, it mostly changes the way that we understand the production of the film itself. The movie was certainly entertaining, but still extremely cliché. If you are interested in downloading the app or watching the movie, remember to think before you act because you never know what fate might hold in store for you.