Watching “ATM” is like getting stuck next to the guy at the party who thinks he is clever and smart but contributes nothing to normal conversation. You sit there politely because you don’t want to be rude, but you think to yourself: really? Why me? What did I do to deserve this? You’ll think those same things if you decide to waste 90 minutes on “ATM,” available now via Video on Demand services.
The film is about three young co-workers who go to an ATM booth late one night so one of them can get some cash. They all end up in the booth and become too frightened to leave when a man wearing a hooded coat begins to guard the door. After witnessing the hooded menace murder someone, they get scared … real scared. In fact, they get too scared. I understand that it would be a little disorienting to be in an ATM booth and look outside to see a hooded man just staring at you, but has society completely filled itself with this many girly men? I mean just use that two pounds of product in your hair to knock the guy out, you wuss. Why do the leads in movies look like they’re not even old enough to shave these days?
Anyway, I digress. Alas, the movie does not. It just keeps on trucking full steam ahead just like that guy at the party. No matter what nonsense it throws at you, it just keeps on going. The film thinks it is oh, so clever, dramatic and scary when actually it is pretty lame brained. Sure, there are attempts at intense situations, but “ATM” never amounts to anything more than just one long and sad stab at a thought-provoking horror movie.
Alice Eve, Josh Peck and Brian Geraghty play the three leads, and I’m sure they’re talented any day of the week even if this film does not show it. These characters are so poorly written that it’s hard to care whether they make it through their ordeal or not. There is plenty to work with, but the script seems more interested in trying to scare us with different ways the killer comes up with to torture our protagonists even though every attempt just makes our eyes roll. Everything the killer does seems thought up by some inept producer in order to capture a semi-cool visual for the trailer.
The film is directed by David Brooks, but I use that word pretty loosely. He brings almost no intensity or energy to the film. When put in contrast with Joel Schumacher’s work on the similarly contrived “Phone Booth,” the direction seems even worse. Schumacher had much less to work with, and yet he created a pulse-pounding thriller. Brooks injects no personality into his thriller. Speaking of “Phone Booth,” screenwriter Chris Sparling should have given Larry Cohen’s “Booth” script a look. Cohen took his clever niche of an idea and added in an actual character and realistic situations along with some great thrills. Sparling never does anything with his concept beyond what almost anyone with a pen and paper could think up. To be fair, though, the set up is clever, nonetheless.
“ATM” is the worst kind of bad movie. It doesn’t evoke a passionate reaction like, say, “The Human Centipede Part II: Full Sequence.” “ATM” is just bad in a very forgettable way.
Sucker Punches: None; unless you count what felt like a sucker punch to my intelligence when that dumb “twist” ending occurred.