Absolutely Terrible Movie
The H-Bomb: Yuppie financial adviser David (Brian Geraghty) offers his female co-worker, Emily (Alice Eve) a ride home from an office Christmas party. David has had a crush on Emily for a while, and since she has just quit the firm to start a new job, he figures this will be his last chance to make a move on her. However, David’s hopes of courting Emily are quickly dashed by another co-worker, Corey (Josh Peck), an annoying douche-face who also hits him up for a ride home.
On the drive out of the city, Corey decides that he’s hungry and pesters David to stop at an ATM so he can get some cash for a pizza place (this pizza place being one of the five restaurants left on the planet that still doesn’t accept credit or debit cards in the year 2011). David would like to just tell Corey to shove it, but it’s very late at night, and he doesn’t feel like arguing, so he agrees to stop at an ATM, which is located in a small glass building in the middle of a deserted parking lot.
David parks, strangely, quite a ways away from the ATM, and Corey heads inside, only to wave both David and Emily in a few moments later. Apparently, Corey’s ATM card won’t work, and he needs David to spot him some cash (as if the guy hasn’t already done him enough favors). Once the money is withdrawn, they turn to leave, only to find some creepy motherfucker in an Eskimo jacket, standing perfectly still in the parking lot, staring in at them.
All three of them have an inkling that something is off about this guy, particularly when they try to leave the ATM, he starts towards them, only to stop when they go back inside. Their suspicions that this ominous looking dude intends to harm them are pretty much confirmed when they witness him murder an unsuspecting passerby with his bare hands. From there on in, this sinister fellow, whose face is perpetually hidden in shadow, proceeds to stalk and play mind games with our trio of non-heroes.
Since one needs a debit card to unlock the door to the glassed-in structure, the three of them should be safe, so long as they stay inside. But, as the night wears on, and the temperature drops, they become desperate to either signal help, or find a way to escape (conveniently, not a one of them is carrying a cell phone). The fact that the psycho outside is inhumanly patient and has a few tricks up his sleeve to lure them out, the odds of them surviving the night are not in their favor…
From the look of the trailer, I really thought that ATM would be right up my alley. It looked like it had a potential to be a tense, tight, single location thriller that could do for going to an ATM after dark what Psycho did for taking showers, what Jaws did for swimming in the ocean, and what Pluto Nash did for paying to see Eddie Murphy movies. And I was right, it did have that potential, as director David Brooks (making his feature debut), did manage to shoot and cut together some sequences that could have been nerve-wrackingly suspenseful… if it wasn’t for him being saddled with a screenplay by Chris Sparking (Buried) that wasn’t so utterly Goddamn stupid!
And when I say stupid, I mean exactly that, STUPID. “Stupid, stupid, stupid!!!” as Ed Wood would say. A stupid script with stupid protagonists who do the stupidest things imaginable, just because the stupid plot needs them to. I’ve come down on certain horror movies for this kind of shit before, but here, these characters are so fucking moronic it totally and completely invalidates anything this movie might have had going for it.
I’ll just list off a few instances of the blatant dumb-assery on display here, in the hopes that you’ll pass this ass-wad up when/if you come upon it on Netflix. Let’s see, first, our main character David inexplicably parks about a hundred yards from the ATM, even though the parking lot is empty and it’s freezing cold outside. Then we’re supposed to believe that not one of these yuppie butt-rags has a cell phone on them, which in this day and age, is not just unlikely, it‘s absurd. Then there’s the notion that these two grown men don’t have the nuts to go outside and try to rush this guy and overpower him, even though they agree that if he had a weapon, he would have brandished it by now. This ain’t fuckin’ Bane we’re talking about, these two could’ve taken him, had they not been too chickenshit to try.
If that’s not enough, they also have numerous chances to bravely run away, like when he’s beating a passerby to death, or when he’s behind the ATM building hammering away at the back wall, they could easily bolt out the front door, but they don’t. Or, all three of them, at any point, could have all made a run for it at once, each going in a different direction, thus ensuring that at least two of them would reach help, but that, of course, never occurs to them. Instead, when they do venture outside to get help, they go one at a time, guaranteeing that this nut job will be able to foil them. Hell, even the killer himself expresses his boredom with their shear stupidity when he breaks out a fucking lawn chair just so he can sit and watch his tiny-minded victims as they fumble about foolishly in their little glass hut.
I know that when people are under extreme duress, they tend not to make the smartest decisions, but thanks to screenwriter Sparking, these three dullards don’t have a quarter of a brain between them. They work at a financial firm? Yeah, with the state the economy’s in, I fuckin’ believe it. Sparking wrote a sharp, intelligent single location thriller with Buried. With ATM, however, he wrote a desperately contrived, nonsensical pile of poop.
The actors try their best with the imbeciles they were tasked with inhabiting, but as it breaks down; David is a sniveling wuss, Corey is an obnoxious dick, Emily is bland, and they are all dumber than a box of rocks. Director Brooks, again, does show some talent with the camera, especially the creepiness of the isolated location at night, as well some well staged suspense scenes. If he ever gets his hands on a good script, he really could make a good film, but this bundle of bullshit is not that script. I can forgive a considerable amount of stupidity, as well as some lapses in logic, in my horror movies, but ATM had so much of both, that by the end of it’s 90 minutes, it just became insufferable, infuriating, and more than a little insulting.