Let me open up by saying that “Countdown” is not by any stretch a bad film. It’s got some decent runs of jump scares as well as tension, however its PG-13 rating keeps it firmly rooted on the lighter side of the “blood and gore” rating’s fence. As a first time feature film outing by writer/director Justin Dec, experienced horror movie audiences are not going to find a lot that can be said to be original or new.

The story involves a new mobile phone app which tells its user when they are going to die. If the app’s user attempts to alter their fate by changing their plans, then it unleashes a demon to torment the individual up until the timer reaches zero, and then they die anyway. As a morality play, it’s a cautionary tale in the dangers of failing to read an app’s license agreement before clicking accept.

Performances by “You’s” Elizabeth Lail and “Black Lightning’s” Jordan Calloway help keep things energized and engaging beyond what might have been with lesser casting. The standout comedy relief comes from Calloway’s fellow “Black Lightning” castmate, P.J. Byrne, as Father John. Father John turns out to be a local Catholic priest whose main geek-topic is demonology and is thrilled at the chance to actually put his book-learning to the test.

For parents looking to take (or send) their kids out to see a horror movie on the big screen this weekend, they could do far worse than Countdown. It’s far more scary than anything they’ve seen in “Stranger Things”, and less disturbing than “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”. If you’re an old hand at the horror genre, and nothing that Pinhead can come up with can even make you twitch, or if you want the level of intellect as Damien Omen , then “Countdown” may not be the right option for you. But if you want to watch people jump in their seats and some fun banter out of a tattooed priest, then give it a try.

Countdown” is rated PG-13, and is now showing at theaters everywhere.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars.

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