I must admit that my curiosity often gets the best of me, especially when it comes to bad movies. Unfortunately, it’s not very often that indulging that curiosity leads to something entertainingly bad that I can then turn around and recommend to others and sometimes it leaves me a little dead inside (I can thank A SERBIAN FILM for that). So for ATM there was a mixture of genuine interest and curiosity as I really wanted to see what Chris Sparling, the writer of BURIED, would come up with and the buzz being bad I was curious to see just how bad it was. What I got was a film that at least looks competently made, but with annoying stupid plot elements and set ups that make no sense and come together in a supremely unsatisfying way.
As a constant viewer of farfetched movie ideas I have been introduced to and accepted a lot of implausible concepts, but at some point I have to put my foot down on something and in spite of a few things I liked about ATM, this is that point. I like one location thrillers when there’s a plausible reason for people to be stuck, but that is the first place where this film drops the ball. The film pits three people (played by Brian Geraghty, Josh Peck and Alice Eve) making a late night stop at an ATM (for reasons equally annoying as the concept itself) and end up being stuck inside because a single winter coat wearing figure lurks on the outside. This is where the eye rolling starts- beyond being suspicious or creeped out by this person there’s no reason these three people couldn’t all team together to take this guy out since not once does this “menacing” figure ever pull out a gun. Three against one at the very least someone might end up with a black eye or a scratch or two before they eventually triumph and are able to go about their merry way with a story to tell.
If the outnumbered odds weren’t enough to check out of the film then of course there’s the ATM itself that is unlike any I’ve ever seen my whole life. It’s the size of a bedroom, maybe even bigger and in the middle of a parking lot in an area with little to no traffic, houses or businesses around it- essentially it exists to get the ATM into a film where people are isolated and stalked by a killer. To fast forward without making this review even more tedious the ultimate end of this film is about as unsatisfying and laughably stupid as anything you’re likely to see this year. Suffice to say that everyone involved in the production thought they had a potential franchise on their hands and they did EVERYTHING in their power to handle that home. I’m sure you are familiar with movies that have scenes right after the credits end or right when they start, well ATM has both plus at least two or three in the MIDDLE of the credits- which I only know because I was too lazy to shut the film off right when it ended.
On paper without adding in the premise the project sounds promising- at least to me. It stars three people I’ve enjoyed in at least one previous movie and a script from someone who wrote one of my favorite films from 2010. The weird thing is that at times each of these things really can work, but most of the time the written words performed by the actors is mind numbingly dumb. The performances aren’t necessarily bad, but the actors are putting effort into concepts that just don’t work from a script trying desperately to force tense situations and confrontations where realistically they wouldn’t happen. If you can buy into every single conflict that rises then sure maybe ATM will work for you, but I’m pretty confident that your resolve will reach a breaking point eventually, especially during the “twist” ending.
I can’t say that every aspect of ATM is doom and gloom- director David Brooks has an eye for squeezing every ounce of compelling material from the script and the set piece, but is ultimately let down with the lack of ideas present in the script. Brooks had little to work with, but the choices he makes in filming each scene at least make the film watchable- but only if you’ve exhausted every other choice available to you. ATM is a shameful attempt at creating franchise bait that rivals any number of properties in a post SCREAM era and hosts an utterly boring killer that rivals the likes of the baddie in I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER. If the film aspires to be nothing more than a cheap knock off of a cheap knock off then they passed that challenge with flying colors.
Written By: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)