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ATM (2011)

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Plot Summary:
"On a late night visit to an ATM, three coworkers end up in a desperate fight for their lives when they become trapped by an unknown man."

Review by
Ryan McDonald
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Review Date: 21 May 2013 My Rating: out of 5


Brian Geraghty and Alice Eve play two investment firm co-workers clearly attracted to one another, who leave an office party together so that Geraghty can drive Eve home (and hopefully get a date out of it). Unfortunately, Geraghty’s jerk pal Josh Peck wants to tag along too. He also gets the munchies and makes Geraghty stop at an ATM station to get some cash for food. This little detour proves their undoing, however, when the trio find themselves inside the station in freezing temperatures, with a menacing killer waiting for them in the parking lot outside. What do you do? (Run for cryin’ out loud!)

If you’ve ever wanted to know what happened to the fat bully from “Mean Creek”, well here he (Josh Peck) is in this lame horror pic from director David Brooks and writer Chris Sparling, and he has entirely slimmed down. And sadly, it’s the most interesting thing about this paint-by-numbers and frankly rather stupid film. Well that, and the fact that I’m declaring my intentions to take Alice Eve’s hand in marriage. Yep, it’s gonna happen. She’s like Rachael Taylor (and certainly looks like her) but with charisma, likeability, and acting talent.

I rather liked the film’s deliberate slow build. Sometimes that can be a problem if you haven’t given the audience sufficiently interesting characters or charismatic actors, but I wasn’t bored here. Alice Eve’s beauty might’ve had something to do with that. Josh Peck was also somewhat amusing as the douchebag third wheel, he isn’t supposed to be terribly likeable. Even Geraghty is far from loveable, given his profession alone.

Unfortunately, the killer from “Urban Legend” soon turned up in a movie they’re not supposed to be in, and that’s when things started to go downhill. I’ve also never seen an ATM station-like thing that this film is located in. Are these a common occurrence? I’ve only seen stand-alone ATMs, but I’m no frequent user of them.

But what really sinks the film is that the characters are insurmountably moronic. Given the size of the parking lot and the numbers advantage, why don’t they just run? I know one of them is female, but why not run in three different directions, then? That way at worst, he’ll only kill one of you. I’m sorry, but it was just too contrived too early on and the film never recovered. The tension was manufactured (even considering it’s a fictional horror film to begin with, it’s still majorly contrived), and the plot terribly bare-bones. Even the characters suffer by the end, because they take far too long to come up with ideas I almost immediately thought of.

Aside from the characters and Ms. Eve’s charisma, the only thing worth a damn here is the attractive cinematography. Whoever lit this knows exactly what to light, and what to leave dark. Shot composition is superlative. Meanwhile, the killer may look like a rip-off, but at least he was suitably brutal and blunt, even for a film that isn’t especially gory. It also has one of the sickest ‘oh no, we killed the wrong guy’ scenes too as a perfectly decent family man is beaten to death. Oopsy. But even then, if they can do that to this one guy, why couldn’t they take their chances on the guy out in the parking lot? Meanwhile, I’m an idiot at the best of times, but the ending (played throughout the end credits) is either completely unnecessary, or entirely incoherent. What was I meant to get out of that? If it’s what I think it is, it’s not information that I particularly cared to find out. This ain’t “Wild Things”, after all. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll know what I mean.

It’s not an awful film, just a failed one. It almost plays like a gimmicky Larry Cohen high-concept script like “Cellular” or “Phone Booth”, only botched, and crossed with “Joy Ride”/“Road Kill”.

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