Earlier this summer, I got an invite for a set visit for a film called Countdown. By the title alone, I thought it was an Arnold Schwarzenegger shoot them up action flick, a nuclear war film or even a new Sylvester Stallone boxing movie.
I was way off.
Countdown is the latest horror film from STX Entertainment about a phone app that is a clock that countdown to your inevitable death. If the person used that knowledge to defy death, then actual death comes after you in a Final Destination-ish way.
It was certainly intriguing. I decided to take up on the offer.
It was a short simple trek into Van Nuys, a little bit north of Los Angeles, towards a sound stage. From the outside of the building, it looked like an office building for accountants and lawyers. Once inside, I was immediately escorted into a make-shift room with video monitors for producers. In fact, this room is the library room from MTV’s Teen Wolf.
I was a bit overjoyed sitting in the room. The lights were turned off as they were filming the climatic scene for Countdown in the next room that was less than 15 feet away.
On the monitors, we’ve watched Talitha Bateman (Jordan Harris) fleeing and being dragged across the floor by a demon creature. We watched the scenes alongside with producers Sean Anders, John Morris, John Rickard and Zack Schiller.
We’ve held multiple chats in between takes with the producers. Later in the day, producer Anders gave us a tour of the sound stage with the sets used for Countdown.
Please note some of the set visit notes can be spoiler-ish.
Here is what we’ve learned:
Countdown Used the Previous Sets to Their Advantage
One of the biggest advantages for using this soundstage was that the previous sets were still intact and re-usable for Countdown. The set had rooms that easily duplicated for a morgue, hospital rooms and hallways. There was even a house for an indoor and outdoor setting for a party scene.
Countdown Phone App is a Clock App Display
The production developed a app that has a clock counting down from the years, days, hours, minutes and seconds. They did not produce an actual usable app, but only for display during the film’s production. There were concerns for liability if an actual app was created for liability purposes. (Note: There is a countdown app available for download that is apparently developed by a fan of the movie.)
Death Avoidance is Inevitable From a Demon
The film will be compared to the Final Destination series that death will be in pursuit if the victim. The demon’s name is Ozhin. It is a demon that consumes souls through their inevitable deaths. If the app user manages to avoid his or her own fate. The general feel is not like Final Destination from a faceless death, but more like The Ring of a creature in pursuit.
Ozhin Demon is Not CGI, But Practical
From Howard Berger of KNB EFX, they created a practical effects for the demon with the costume and makeup. Berger is well-known for his work in The Walking Dead, Legion, The Orville, Hemlock Grove and countless more movies and television shows.
Ozhin is portrayed by creature actor Dirk Rogers. He has played monsters in The Walking Dead, and Predators. Berger described the construction of Ozhin from handling of the head to the long fingered hands. The costume would seem to be “embedded into the skin” to portray a “silhouette” feel as being chased in the shadows. The makeup effects team even added big lenses to eye portrayals and long gnarly teeth.
With every demon, the Catholic Church is involved in one way or another. Hilarious P.J. Byrne plays Father John, who will attempt to save our protagonists from the demon. On the set, production filmed (minus P.J. Byrne) of a protective circle painted on the ground of a storage room. The demon seems to make multiple attempts to break the barrier.
Other Things We’ve Learned
- Opening scene of film will be a house party, in which a bunch of friends will be playing around with the Countdown for fun.
- The first victim in the film will die in a bathroom scene.
- There is a stairway scene, in which someone dies in an emergency stairway exit.
- There’s a morgue scene. When it comes to mysterious deaths, someone has to go down to the hospital morgue.
- The younger sister, Jordan, to Elizabeth Lail’s character, Quinn, downloaded the app. It’s up to Quinn to save her sister.
- Climatic scene will have a confrontation with Quinn, Jordan, the demon and the mother?
- Sadly, the Teen Wolf’s library will not be used in any scenes of this movie.
Check out our full interview on set with producers Sean Anders and John Morris.
Countdown is in theaters everywhere this Friday.
Source: LRM Online Exclusive