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Bad Movie Tuesday: ATM

August 21, 2012

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Three people, one ATM and a killer who can be defined as a “booksmart jerk.” ATM is a tiny Canadian thriller that has a decent premise but fails to cash in on the situation. It tries to make lone ATMs as threatening as the water in Jaws. However, the bad guy in this film is a total poindexter. He lacks the teeth, tenacity and unpredictable nature that made the large shark so scary. The shark was a perfect predator while this guy is great with a slide ruler and relies on mass quantities of luck.

Sidenote: I wrote this while watching Shark Week and geeking out over my Jaws Blu-ray.

The film was written by the man who wrote Buried. That film starred Ryan Reynolds as a dude trapped in a coffin. Buried created decent suspense with its Hitchcock style and creative with nothing sensibilities. ATM can’t buy the suspense because it includes a ridiculous bad guy and characters who make terrible decisions. Instead of watching this film look at these three pictures and you will get the idea.

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The best part of the film Buried was that the man could not leave the coffin. He was stuck and had to use any available resource to survive. The three people in ATM have every chance to escape on multiple occasions. They entrap themselves instead of being trapped. I understand that the killer could be anywhere but it is ridiculous to assume that the hooded killer could be everywhere. The man plans on every angle and has endless charts and graphs proving he did his homework. However, knowing this makes it lame. Nothing makes a movie less scary than watching a killer find out the trajectory of a video camera. Imagine watching Jason Voorhees at Home Depot testing out what Machete has the best air trajectory. Wait, watching people gawk at a masked behemoth swinging a machete is aisle 14 sounds fantastic.

To be fair you don’t find out that the killer is a researcher until the final credits. So, you are annoyed at the final twist (ATM camera only picked up what went on inside the ATM thus making the nice kid look guilty) then you become more peeved knowing that this wasn’t some random hunting.

How could he plan for all the intangibles including cops, patrons, cell phones and guns. It makes all of the prep work useless. What kind of game is this guy playing? There is zero back story. I know in the past I’ve complained about too much back story. However, you need to know a little about the person who is killing all of the good-looking people. Otherwise, it is just a bunch of attractive people getting killed. The three actors are wasted as well. Alice Eve is a wonderfully nice actress, Josh Peck was solid in The Wackness and the other guy was in The Hurt Locker. 40 minutes into the film my girlfriend looked at me and said “why is Alice Eve in this film?” I wondered the same thing. The charming young cast is reduced to stereotypes and the film quickly becomes tired. This would have been a perfect short film about three people hunted by a silent killer. Make it part of a trilogy of short films of people who get killed in an ATM, porta potty and an enclosed gondola.

ATM tried something new on a budget. However, nobody can buy the plot because of the uninteresting killer and improbable decisions made by the three good-looking people. Don’t watch this film. Watch the wonderfully underrated film Devil. You will love it.

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