ATM (2012)

Director:  David Brooks

Avg. Rotten Tomatoes Score:  10%

Genre:  Survival, Thriller

Source:  DVD Rental (Redbox)

Wow.  That’s all I have to say about this movie.  Chris Sparling, the writer behind the criminally underrated gem, Buried, tries to take another shot at the notion of “being trapped in a _____” and fails in so many different ways.  If you’ve seen the trailer for this film you’ve essentially seen the entire movie.  The only thing missing from the trailer are the insane plot holes, weird “twist” ending, and the pure anger you will experience once the credits start rolling.

Before I go forward with my discussion of this film, let me show you the DVD menu that this film has:

What is this a DVD menu from 1999?

Is that not one of the most ridiculous looking DVD menus of all time?  I didn’t even pressed play yet and I was already full of anger and rage.  I mean, come on!!!!  I’ve seen some bad DVD menus in my time (Wishmaster II, Cool World…) but this is easily one of the worst ones I’ve ever seen.  But I digress.

The premise of the film is pretty solid:  a trio of young people stop at an ATM kiosk in the middle of the night but are trapped by a sadistic killer.  But after that basic idea, what more can you do to keep the audience entertained?  And that is the inherent problem with this film, the writer doesn’t know how to make the rest of the story fresh and entertaining.  This story would be perfect if it was a 20-30 minute entry in an anthology film, but as a standalone film, it just doesn’t work.

Within the first 30 minutes of the film, the characters do some of the most illogical things that I’ve ever seen in film.  First, Brian Geraghty’s character drives up to a scary looking ATM kiosk and parks a good 150 feet away from the entrance.  Josh Peck’s character runs in to use the machine but then requests help from Brian, so he leaves the car in the EXACT SAME SPOT and runs through the freezing cold weather to enter the building.  Why doesn’t he just move the car closer?  Next, Alice Eve’s character leaves the car because she is cold, so instead of doing the logical thing like turning the car on and activating the heater, she runs through the freezing weather to join the two.  What???  The keys are still in the car!!! Use them!

It gets worse after that.  The killer shows up and has them trapped but he gives the trio so many chances to escape while he is in the back of the building for four hours working on something.  They could’ve got out and ran in three different directions, they could’ve fought back because it is three against one, etc.  Alice Eve doesn’t want to go outside because she thinks that there is more than one of them, but that theory is debunked because we see in the first scene that the killer is working on this plan alone.  These things have to convince us, the audience, as well as the characters in the story other wise it just falls apart.  Some movies don’t make sense and have movie logic, but the difference between those movies and this one is that the gaping plot holes aren’t served to you on a silver platter.

Oh wait, it gets better.  The killer shuts down power to the building, shutting down any heat from entering the ducts.  Brian Geraghty’s character goes out, loses his coat while trying to escape, and sits in a building in -6 degree weather, with no jacket, for four hours and is still alive and coherent and shows no signs of hypothermia or frostbite anywhere.

The ending suggests that Brian Geraghty is going to be charged for the deaths of Alice Eve, Josh Peck, the stranger who’s dressed like the killer (who is dressed like the killer from Urban Legends) and the security guard, along with the destruction of bank property because the cops are reviewing the surveillance tape, which is edited by the killer.  Even that doesn’t make sense because I doubt the killer can get into the bank’s secure line and edit a live security feed.  The killer is never shown with any computers or high tech equipment to do that, just basic tools.  Also, how can he be charged if the security tape is edited?  I’m no lawyer but I don’t think that evidence would be admissible in court.

The killer is the best part of the whole movie.  He’s a dark, menacing figure who is constantly a step ahead of the trio.  The one gripe I did have with him was the director’s choice to show his eyes, showing us some of the emotions he’s going through as he terrorizes this group.  I would’ve preferred to keep his face completely in the shadows, as it was in his introduction, to keep him more mysterious.

There is hardly any character development or coherent exposition as the story progresses.  The only character development we get is the flimsy “love story” between Alice Eve and Brian Geraghty that eventually crumbles away as the story gets dumber and dumber.  This lack of character development leads to us hating all three of the characters, particularly Josh Peck, and by the time the climax comes, we are so bored by the story that we don’t even care if they live or die anymore.

Despite the weak script, director David Brooks does a decent job at the technical side of the film.  His extremely dark exteriors blend well with the bright interior of the ATM kiosk.  His camera angles and the overall look of the film really makes you feel that you are trapped in the room with the trio.  Besides that, there are no other real redeeming qualities of this boring quasi-slasher story.

Overall this was an extremely disappointing effort.  The unlikeable characters, the huge plot holes, the cute “twist” ending, and the lack of character development really results in a poor, substandard entry into the slasher sub-genre.  When I first saw the trailer I was skeptical and thought that it might have potential but it just doesn’t work.  If you are interested in a good “trapped in a _____” film, watch Chris Sparling’s first film, Buried.  You’ll be shocked that it’s written by the same guy who wrote this.

What say you guys?  Did you like ATM?  Hate it?  Feel free to comment below.

8 thoughts on “ATM (2012)

  1. Nice write up buddy!

    But yeah I thought this was an awful movie. Alice Eve was the best bit and that’s just because she is smoking hot!! You hated it for all the reasons I did. As soon as they parked the car miles away from the ATM I knew what a stupid direction this movie was going in!

  2. I haven’t seen it, but this review doesn’t make me want to rush out to find it. This does sound like an interesting premise, but it sounds like they couldn’t pull it off. Nice review.

    • Thank you very much for the compliment. This would’ve worked as a piece in an anthology film or even in an episode of Tales from the Crypt, but as a stand alone film that has to have character development and exposition, it just doesn’t work.

  3. See, screenwriters should realize when they have written something that isn’t a feature-length movie. Where’s the shame in doing a segment of an anthology, or even a short film, versus incurring the wrath of fans?

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