|31 Days of Horror|
ATM begins with David (Brian Geraghty) and Corey (Josh Peck) being awful at their day trading job. No worries, though; tonight is the office Christmas party, which means that the night is full of fancy cocktails and expensive whiskey!
Alice Eve), because it is her last day at the company, so he makes the most of it, in a clumsy and mostly ineffectual fashion. He does convince her to let him drive her home, since it is below zero outside and she can't seem to catch a cab. And she lives pretty far away, and it's pretty late, so she'll probably feel obliged to invite him in and, you know, ease his throbbing man-passion.
|A guy going out of his way to help her? That's the most realistic part of ATM|
|"I know, I know. I'm a bastard. I've got a reservation for the ninth circle of Hell."|
|Look into the face of appropriately clothed evil and despair!|
There are only three real characters in ATM, so breaking down the acting here will be thankfully brief. Brian Geraghty was timid and whiny when his character was supposed to be shy and likable. I don't ordinarily dislike Geraghty, but he took a role that should have at least been sympathetic and instead played the part like a little bitch. Alice Eve was more likable, but so is the killer. Eve was decent before the trio stopped at the ATM, and once she was there, her character played the weak link in the group. Her dialogue indicates that Eve did a decent job with the part, but her character was unrealistic and annoying. This is the first movie I have seen Josh Peck in, but I will congratulate him for making it out of Nickelodeon-child-actor-hood and not being a ham. He doesn't have nearly the weaselly charm that his character is supposed to have, but I thought he was a slight improvement over Geraghty's impression of a six-year-old girl with bladder problems.
|"Why don't we have winter clothing, like that guy in the parking lot?"|
While it is certainly not good, the acting is not the main problem with ATM. Is it the direction, though, or the writing? Let's look at the direction first. This is David Brooks' first attempt at directing a feature film. With a limited cast of characters, enclosed in a small space while someone tries to kill them, it would make sense for the director to have a firm hand on the tone of this film. He does not. There is no suspense in this movie. There is no tension. When a character tried to escape the ATM and wound up being clotheslined by some fishing wire in the parking lot, it should have been startling, or it should have elicited a gasp. I laughed until I couldn't stop coughing, and then I rewound and played it again to make sure I didn't miss anything.
|...and this should look like terror instead of Alice Eve saying "hello" with a Kennedy accent|
|The action scenes suck, too. Just sitting through a fire? BO-ring.|
|This shot is 80% of ATM's storyboards|
As sub-par as the directing is, it is the writing that sinks ATM. Chris Sparling (who wrote Buried) received the writing credit for this movie, although I don't see anything to indicate whether he turned in a traditional script or if he handed in a stack of papers covered in crayon scribbles and boogers. This is easily the worst produced script I have seen in a good long while. Sucker Punch was better written than this movie, that's how dumb this script is. How is this script idiotic? Let's run down the list:
- Three young professionals live in what appears to be the Wisconsin/Illinois area (judging by the killer's maps) in Winter, and yet none of them have a real Winter coat? Or gloves? And only the girl has a hat, and it's one of those fluffy ones that are more for looks than warmth? That's not how it works in the American Midwest. Nobody looks sexy outdoors in December in Chicago. Everyone bundles the hell up. Everyone. Even those assholes who wear shorts all year long will wear a puffy down jacket when it gets below zero.
- Every other character in the movie is wearing the exact same Winter jacket with a fur trim on the hood. I live in Illinois, and I don't know a single man with fur trim on his jacket. I also rarely see people with their hoods up, unless it's sleeting. Hats, yes. Hoods, not so much. A string of men, all indistinguishable from each other because they all own the same damn coat and have their hoods up? That's about as likely as three people failing to have Winter jackets at the same time.
- All three twentysomethings left their phones in the car (or let their battery die). All three? I am just outside the smartphone generation, and I rarely leave my phone in another room, let alone get out of the car without it. You're telling me that these three all did it at the same time?
- Emily left her purse in the car (which was not her car, and was out in the open) when she got out to go to the ATM. I'm no expert on women, but I give that a zero percent chance of happening.
- The killer shows up with no weapons. What the hell? His original plan was to look menacing, until someone gave him the means to find a weapon? Hell, he couldn't have done half of the things he did to the ATM vestibule without the tools he conveniently found in the trunk of David's car.
- Who leaves a fire hose out overnight, let alone around Christmas?
- David has a fully-stocked toolbox in his trunk. He trades securities or something like that. Why would he keep a few hundred dollars of non-tire-changing tools in his trunk?
|"Now I have |
|Finally! Somebody parks their damn car close to the ATM machine. He's helping!|
As bad as ATM is, I couldn't help laughing at its ineptness. It takes itself so seriously that the obvious mistakes and plot holes feel utterly ridiculous. I can't imagine a modern movie with recognizable actors that is stupider than ATM. More pretentious? Sure. More frustrating? Easily. Simply worse? Yes. But dumber? The only thing that could be dumber than ATM would be a sequel. By the way, the ending clearly sets up a sequel. Since this movie made about forty-two cents against a budget of three million dollars, it probably won't happen, but how sweet would it have been for ATM 2: The ATMining to have had the same villain, with the same MO, against someone who wasn't fatally moronic?
|Even better: same coat, but in Florida|
That doesn't mean it's not fun to watch, though. This movie has just enough stupidity to keep me interested in pointing out what the next mistake will be. It was close, though. There is a fine line between Lefty Gold and utter trash sometimes, I will admit. ATM straddles that line for much of the film. Thankfully, the fate of each character and the reveal of the killer as a "mastermind" was enough to make me belly laugh. I wouldn't advise watching this sober and/or alone, but in the right state of mind, it's pretty solid Lefty Gold.