ATM (2012) Review

Directed by: David Brooks
Starring: Brian Geraghty, Josh Peck, Alice Eve

These claustrophobic / isolation horror films have always been a favorite of mine. It's really amazing to see what can be done with a small cast in a very limited location and a lot of the time these movies are executed really well. Obviously when you limit the geographical aspect of a film though, you need to increase the quality in other areas such as the script and the character development. This is where ATM falls short.

David and Corey (Geraghty and Peck) are friends and co-workers who work for a financial firm. Emily (Eve) is also a fellow employee however she is working her last day before she leaves to start a new job. It seems that David has had his eye on her for a while now but is too shy to ask her out, but since she is leaving he sees the company Christmas party as his last chance to make a move. After some awkward conversation David offers Emily ride home but forgets that he has already offered to take Corey home after the party. So the three set off with David visibly pissed at Corey's insistence at tagging along, and to piss him off even further Corey nags David to stop at an ATM so he can withdraw some cash and go buy some food. A short while later they stumble across the most isolated ATM in the world and David decides to park as far away from it as he possibly can. Somehow all three characters end up standing inside this enclosed ATM booth and when they turn to leave they see a mysterious figure standing outside the door. There is a bit of debate as to who this man is and why he's standing outside after midnight in sub-zero temperatures, but after he kills some guy taking his dog for a walk they realize that they are in big trouble.

I read a review before I watched this movie and it said something along the lines of ATM being a 15 minute idea trapped in a 90 minute movie, and I have to say that I completely agree. The concept is great and I can imagine this being made into a brilliant 15-20 minute short film. Stretching it to a 90 minute running time however was a terrible idea. The beginning of the movie has too much obvious padding as we are forced to get to know the very 2-dimensional characters and the filmmakers try to manufacture a really unconvincing romance between David and Emily. Right from the start Corey is presented to us as a bit of a tight-fisted, annoying asshole but even after we clearly get the picture, this fact is still constantly pushed at us as if we're all retarded. A poorly written screenplay from Chris Sparling (BURIED) makes it obvious just how stupid these three characters really are and how unrealistic their reactions to this scenario are. There are so many flaws when it comes to logic in this movie and basically you feel like you're watching three people make idiotic decisions while a killer sits outside and watches. Why would Emily leave her purse in the car when it's so far away from the ATM and she can't seem to lock the doors? Why doesn't the killer just smash his way into the booth and kill them instead of wasting time? Where the fuck is that water coming from? Why doesn't this 'secure' ATM booth have a phone? So many questions arise while viewing this movie and it's the kind of movie that makes you want to scream at the characters and tell them just how fucking stupid they are. Eventually some intelligent, logical decisions are made but always about a half hour after you've already thought of them yourself. 

Despite all of my previous bitching the movie isn't all bad. The acting is actually pretty good and some of the more tense moments are well done. Visually it looks great too with some nice camera work and lighting. But that's about it. The rest of the movie is dull and predictable and the ending is utterly stupid. I wouldn't recommend seeing this unless you have absolutely nothing else to do.

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