The App’s Real Meaning & Ending Explained

The App's Real Meaning & Ending Explained

In Countdown (2019), the app’s real meaning is glossed over, and the movie’s ending doesn’t make it any clearer, although it could be setting up a sequel. Countdown’s eponymous app is introduced when Courtney (Anne Winters) and her friends mistakenly come across it searching for a weight-loss app. Everyone tries it, intrigued by its outlandish claim that it can tell users exactly when they are going to die. It seems amusing to everyone but Courtney, who is told she only has three hours to live. When Courtney tries to use this information to avoid her death, Countdown’s sinister app tells her that she has broken the user agreement. As a result, she is attacked and killed by an unseen creature at her exact time of death.

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Shortly thereafter, nurse Quinn (played by Elizabeth Lail, who starred as Guinevere Beck in You season 1) meets Courtney’s former boyfriend, Evan (Dillon Lane), who tells her what happened. The concept of an app that tells you the exact time of your death is at first appalling to her, but once she tells her co-workers about it, none of them can resist the urge to try it. Like Courtney, Quinn is given the grim news that she only has a short time to live. Disturbed, she researches Countdown’s app on the internet, taking comfort in the fact that many people seem to think it’s a scam. However, her consolation is short-lived, and she is compelled to use the app to change her fate and avoid death.

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Because of this, the Countdown movie’s cursed app begins to tell her that she has broken the user agreement, and it torments her with powerfully realistic visions. In an attempt to get rid of it, she goes to phone salesman Doc (Tom Segura) for a new phone and is horrified when it follows her. She then meets Matt (Jordan Calloway), a Countdown user who also broke the user agreement. Together, they learn that the app’s user agreement forbids using it to change your fate. With time running out, Quinn and Matt strive to break free from the app’s sinister grasp, enlisting the help of Doc and demonologist Father John (P.J. Byrne).

What Happens In Countdown’s Ending

Talitha Bateman in Countdown

After Doc hacks the Countdown app, Quinn discovers that her sister Jordan (Talitha Bateman, who starred in the Annabelle: Creation movie) has also used it and has slightly less time to live than she does. Doc is able to add time to their countdowns, and the problem is seemingly solved. However, their countdowns are soon mysteriously reset, forcing them to return to Father John, who tells them the app is cursed and is the work of a demon called Ozhin. Luckily, Father John has been preparing for a confrontation with such diabolical forces ever since he began seminary. He tells them that in order to remove the curse, they simply need to make a liar out of the Devil by either choosing someone to die before their countdown is up or by keeping them alive until after it ends.

At first, Quinn and Jordan try their best to keep Matt alive since he has the least amount of time to live. They ultimately fail, however, as Matt is lured out from their protective circle of salt by Ozhin. Quinn, who was falling in love with Matt, almost loses hope, but she remembers that Father John said they could also remove the curse by forcing someone to die before their scheduled death. She tries to do just that by attempting to kill her boss, Dr. Sullivan (Peter Facinelli), an unrepentant sexual predator. Unfortunately, he escapes with the demon’s help, and Quinn is forced to kill herself via opioid overdose in order to save her sister, after which Ozhin vanishes.

Cleverly, Quinn leaves her sister instructions on how to revive her using the opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan (Naloxone), as foreshadowed in Countdown’s beginning. Despite Ozhin’s vanishing, the final scene of the film shows that the app may have been defeated, but it has not been destroyed—Quinn receives a notification to her phone that says “Software update: Countdown 2.0 is now installed”.

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The Real Meaning Behind The Countdown App

Countdown 2019 Movie Review

While Countdown seems to be about the inevitability of death, its real meaning has more to do with human susceptibility to evil. Father John explains that the app is a curse, and that those who break its user agreement will be cursed. He also explains that the app is the work of the demon Ozhin, who is a servant of the Devil. Unlike the antagonists of similar films—the Final Destination and Ring series for example—Ozhin is a creature of pure evil, and its motivations are never explicitly explained.

However, because Ozhin is referred to in the film as a servant of the Devil, it is safe to assume that it preys upon people’s mortal weaknesses and tricks them into giving into their base desires, much like how in the film Horns (2014), Ig’s horns give him the power to make people do horrible things they otherwise wouldn’t. In the case of Countdown, it’s the human propensity for vanity being exploited.

Tricking humans into wrongdoing is a trait commonly attributed to the Devil and his minions, and Countdown actually starts with Courtney and her friends displaying their vanity, specifically in terms of the obsessive desire to be thin. They stumble upon the Countdown app looking for another one called Countdown to Skinny, which clearly plays on people’s vanity and their insecurities about their weight. Of course, obesity is a serious health condition, but none of Courtney’s friends seem like they are obese. It’s the same with the Countdown app: the desire to know when you will die is a direct result of vanity, greed and the selfish (at least in God’s eyes) desire to live forever.

The Real Meaning of Countdown’s Ending

Elizabeth Lail In Countdown

The film’s main premise is that there is an app for everything—people can track their weight, their schedule, their love life. These apps supposedly exist to make users’ lives better, but they also manipulate users for profit, similarly to how Ig’s powers work in Horns. They trick them into buying upgrades and paying more and more for their services through the use of insidious marketing techniques that not only invade their privacy and compromise their data security but also require agreeing to long-winded and confusing user agreements.

Related: Cursed Films: The Exorcist Curse Explained

Therefore, the real meaning of Countdown’s ending is not that death is inevitable or the demon Ozhin, one of the Devil’s tricksters, is unstoppable. Instead, it is a metaphor for predatory marketing techniques that many apps employ to generate profit. Smartphones and apps have become essential in people’s lives, and a host of fears related to technology come with that intimate relationship.

One of those fears is that technology has become detrimentally inescapable, which is why the film ends with Countdown 2.0 being automatically installed on Quinn’s phone. An insidious app following its users from phone to phone might sound laughable; however, in a way, it highlights a rational fear—some downloads come with a heavy price to pay. In the film Countdown as in real life, if users aren’t careful, they might not discover how heavy that price is until it’s too late.

Is Countdown 2 Happening?

Countdown Movie App

Naturally, Countdown’s ending raises questions about whether there will be a sequel, as the automatically re-downloaded app seems to imply that Ozhin isn’t finished hunting people down through sinister technology. There have been no announcements about a Countdown sequel at this time, however. This could ultimately be for the best, though, as poorly developed horror movie sequels are usually labeled mistakes. That said, the clear setup for Countdown 2 via the 2.0 app download might be too tempting to pass up. If audience demand for a Countdown sequel is high enough, as seems to be the case, then a sequel just might happen. With both Quinn and Jordan left alive at the end of the original Countdown, the sequel’s story wouldn’t even have to look very far for source material, as it could see the sisters continue their battle with Ozhin in a new context.

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About The Author

Steven Cuffari
(107 Articles Published)

Steven Cuffari, aka “Steve,” is a fiction writer who mostly works in the horror genre, but also in other forms of speculative fiction. As a movie and TV features writer for Screen Rant, he translates his passion for fiction into commentary and analysis. Check out his podcast at voicesfromthedark.com.

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