Death? There’s an App for That—The Origin of COUNTDOWN

Poster art from the final poster for Countdown (2019) featuring a dirty, green, dead-looking hand with a smartphone inside that has a countdown with all zeroes in red and a cracked screen, all set against a grey, smooth concrete-looking background

Think, for a moment, on the incredible intensity of a life-or-death situation or an insurmountable task. It seems hard enough to overcome such a precarious proposition on face value, right? Now add a ticking clock to the mix, and what do you have? You have a truly harrowing tale fit for the big screen. This Friday writer/director Justin Dec and STX Entertainment present Countdown, a ticking-clock horror/thriller that combines a bit of comedy with fear and the supernatural.

Exclusive Interview with Writer/Director Justin Dec

The concept features a popular app named Countdown that claims to predict the exact moment of one’s death. Sixty years, fifty years…it’s all fun and games when the prospect of facing death is a distant afterthought, but what if you’re told you have only days to live? A young nurse, Quinn (Elizabeth Lail), is forced to uncover the truth behind the mysterious app when it tells her she has only three days to left to live. With the clock counting down and death closing in, she must find a way to save her life before time runs out.  

The idea for Countdown came from a smartphone timer. “One day the idea just popped into my head: What if this timer is ticking down to when I die?” says Justin Dec. “It’s probably not a normal thought, but something just clicked.” The ability for a select few to discover the exact moment of their death is one thing, but taking that power and making it easily accessible to nearly everyone is another. “We all have a death clock,” says Dec. “We don’t know when that’s going to be, but we have a countdown. And we’re all carrying our phones around, so if we had that information at our fingertips, what would that be like?” Dec turned his concept into a five-minute short, filmed in his apartment over two nights, then sent the short to his friends and mentors Sean Anders and John Morris, producers of Countdown. “On one level it made me laugh because it’s this idea of a killer app,” says Anders. “It was so well-executed; my wheels started turning as to what kind of movie it could be.” 

Hollywood Stars That You Didn't Know Got Their Start in Horror Movies

The team turned to producer John Rickard, with whom Anders and Morris had worked with on Horrible Bosses 2, for additional support in bringing the concept to the big screen. “Justin, Sean and John came to me with a wholly original idea and an incredible vision that was both high-concept and provocative,” says Rickard. “It’s the Final Destination franchise meets The Ring—in app; it instantly drew me in.” The formula taps into our obsession with smartphones to create a scary movie with a timely message on the importance of family and relationships. 

Countdown-Elizabeth Lail
Quinn (Elizabeth Lail) in Countdown (2019)

Stephen King's 3 Levels of Horror

Comedy mixes with fear and even the supernatural in Countdown, a combination producer Zach Schiller believes the movie handles very well. “This film is terrifying, and it needs to be, but there’s also an element of comedy,” says Schiller. “For me, moments of levity go hand and hand with great horror, and this film does that in an exceptional way.” Like many great horrors, Countdown will be released just in time for Halloween. “It’s a smart, scary movie that knows not to take itself too seriously—there will be nothing like it in theaters,” says Schiller. 

Join Quinn as she races against the clock to save her life in the original horror/thriller Countdown, coming to Regal this Friday, October 25th. 

Get Tickets