Notable Cast: Alice Eve, Josh Peck, Brian Geraghty
Review: Time to give the old one location horror film another try. Penned by Buried writer Chris Sparling, ATM opens up the setting tremendously in comparison, but still stays simple inside a tiny booth with no escape. Our characters fall prey to the old “wrong place wrong time” adage, which also describe’s our secretive killer’s motives. Usually stale and lacking innovation, the whole one room setting mostly ends up being a cheap gimmick or lackluster selling point. But, I’ll watch anything with the ever so lovely Alice Eve, so I decided to give first time director David Brooks and a tire iron wielding madman a chance. Accompanying Eve on her horrid night are an up and coming Jersey boy actor (Brian Geraghty) and former Nickelodeon resident funny fat kid turned douchebag stereotype Josh Peck. Peck pulled a Jonah Hill before Jonah Hill even pulled a Jonah Hill, minus the d-bag typecasting. Sidetrack, and back. While ATM can be a tense thriller at times, and I use that phrase sparingly, the rest is created with nothing much to offer but typical horror plot movers. Invest somewhere else, as ATM lacks any value in the long-term.
After a financial firm’s Christmas party, three friends leave together for a night they’ll never forgot. David (Geraghty) finally works up the nerve to ask out co-worker Emily (Eve), playing white knight by offering her a ride home. Unfortunately, annoying buddy and office jerk Corey (Peck) tags along, taking advantage of David’s guilt. On the way home, Corey pesters David until agreeing to stop for food, and of course Corey is also broke. Making an additional stop with Emily in the car all this while, David pulls into a dark and ominous parking lot ATM so Corey can withdraw a few bucks for munchies. But Corey isn’t done ruining David’s night yet. Flagging his friend, Corey exclaims his card won’t work and he needs to loan a few bucks. Emily gets sick of waiting in the car alone, so she pops in to wait in the heated booth as well. But when all three turn around to leave, a mysteriously hooded man is discovered standing in the parking lot, looking directly at them. They try opening the door, but he moves closer. Committing a crime to show he means business, the three friends fear for their lives while trapped in an ATM booth on a cold Canadian night, with no knowledge as to the killer’s motives. Of all the ATM booths in Canada to pick, David had to pick this one.
Still a fan of the “All Three Run At Once” plan. Sorry Alice Eve…
Concerning one room horror flicks, the best exhibit grand storytelling and wicked twists that blow up in our characters faces as the answer was glaring at them all film. I’m going to expose Saw as a brilliant example of twisted writing that leaves our jaw on the floor for this example. If you haven’t seen the original by now, there have been like 20 more so I shouldn’t even have to say spoiler alert and get on your sh#t! Saw is one of the greatest horror films released in the 2000s! Again, I digress, sorry ATM, I should be giving you all the attention here. But in Saw, it’s revealed the dead man in the center of the room Cary Elwes and Leigh Whannell wake up trapped in is actually the mastermind behind all plans, walking out to apparently seal Cary Elwes’ fate. That scene right there blew my mind. The explosions of all truths and questions in one simple revelation, yet tremendous in magnitude because the answers were there the whole time. ATM is missing a grand moment of reveal, be it why the criminal feels compelled to torture these three souls or maybe some hidden secrets in the trio. We’re to believe the hooded thug just carries these acts out for fun, or if you want to make the stretch we can believe the hunter is getting revenge on David for losing all his savings in investments (a phone call from earlier in the film). The later doesn’t seem feasible though, so we’re left with unanswered questions and a simple “Because” in regards to story. With no backbone or twist, ATM is nothing but a piece built to exploit the genre, while a film like Saw plays out more like a full experience. With ATM, something just feels missing…
Another strike for ATM is weak character building, as there is no connection to be made. Sorry Josh Peck, but I was actually hoping you would die based on how unlikable the script painted you. Eve and Geraghty don’t exactly fail, but don’t impress much either with their annoying cutesy romantic moments. Besides them, all external characters were utilized for cheap kills, complete with typical horror movie retardation. I swear, it’s like a plague. Sorry, if I’m in a scary parking lot at 2AM and some hooded man is walking briskly towards me, I’m leaving that instant. Not taking chances he either wants to kill me or sell charity candy bars to benefit the local school system. Another dies the most overused and clichéd horror death ever as soon as he takes his phone out, and yet another is killed completely irrationally without any investigation into his real identity. I understand a horror movie needs kills and gore, but ATM tried entirely too hard to achieve that credibility.
So my quest for eye-popping horror continues on, as ATM failed hitting the jackpot. We learn here that story actually still means something in horror, settling our minds with at least a hint of rationality as to why a killer would go to such great lengths. And if no story is to be found, you better be satisfying our appetite for over-the-top gore and memorable character deaths. Sure, some Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th films aren’t cinema gold, yet still hold more weight because we know WHY each villain is so pissed off. ATM ends feeling incomplete and without meaning, like a bad PSA for the dangers of night eating or late night ATM usage. Insert clever banking pun: do everything you can to void this transaction.
Final Rating: 4.5 sad-looking puppies out of 10
Alice Eve “Durrr” face engage….