Paul (Thomas Jane) and Wendy (Anne Heche) take their ten year old daughter Taylor on a camping trip over the Thanksgiving weekend, But Taylor doesn’t make it to the holiday. She disappears on the very first day, while mom is away and dad is flirting with the hottie next door.
Over the next week, as the cops try and fail to find their daughter, Paul and Wendy unravel. Almost anyone would, in their shoes. It’s a terrible thing to lose your child, and to sit helplessly by while search and rescue continues to turn up nothing. But it’s also terrible to disregard official police “advice” and take things in hand themselves. People under incredible emotional duress don’t make the best decisions. Wendy and Paul make particularly bad decisions, but it turns out they’re not the most stable people.
Peter Facinelli writes, directs, and appears as one of the inept cops, and should be deeply ashamed of all three. This movie is so out of this world improbable that, at times, it feels like the writer meant it as a comedy but the director wildly misinterpreted everything, except that Facinelli is of course both the writer and the director and very very bad at both. The entire movie is built around a terrible twist ending that takes a page from the very worst of M. Night Shyamalan and actively seeks to one-up him in a competition of awfulness. Even Anne Heche and Thomas Jane, neither of whom was ever mistaken for a good actor, do their best worst acting in this.
My very best advice: try your damnedest to avoid this one on Netflix.
Quinn (Elizabeth Lail) is a young nurse working in a hospital. She befriends a teenage patient who was injured in a car accident and awaiting surgery. Evan (Dillon Lane) is very nervous about the surgery, and Quinn’s reassurance doesn’t help – he has an app on his phone that predicts the exact moment of his death, and guess when his time’s up? That’s right, the very next day, scheduled mid-surgery. Quinn is dismissive on the app but Evan explains his certainty; at a recent party, his girlfriend and a bunch of friends had used the app as a drinking game. Everyone had downloaded it, and the person nearest to his or her death had to take a shot. Evan’s girlfriend drank the shot – her countdown to death was just 3 hours away. She wisely turned down a ride from drunken Evan but wound up dead anyway, and Evan crashed his car, a tree limb stabbing through the passenger seat where his girlfriend would have been sitting. At shift exchange, Quinn relays this conversation with her peers, and all are excited to download it themselves. Most have countdowns decades away, meaning long lives ahead, but Quinn’s clock is counting down from just 3 days from now.
Quinn’s little sister Jordan (Talitha Bateman) is scheduled to die right around the same time, so they team up with fellow near-deather Matt (Jordan Calloway) to seek out any possibility of extending their lives, including the help of a priest and some salt. The thing about death, though, is that it comes for everyone.
This movie isn’t exactly going to uplift the genre or defy expectations or win awards, but for what it is, it’s pretty decent. The countdown clock is an effective if often-used tool. Elizabeth Lail isn’t exactly given first-rate material to work with, but she’s a good actor and the character’s not a ditz, and those things alone put Countdown in the top half of all horror movies. The story’s generic and predictable but the jump scares still work enough to get your heart pumping, and that’s always worth something in the horror genre. If you’re up for a little fate-dodging, and are prepared to meet Death himself, choose Countdown, but leave your phone in another room.