May 3, 2012

ATM (2012)



"On a late night visit to an ATM, three co-workers end up in a desperate fight for their lives when they become trapped by an unknown man."

I put off watching "ATM" until now because of all the negativity surrounding it. I wanted to watch the film with all the opinions of the nobodies who bash everything on the internet far from being foremost in my mind so that I could give it a fair chance. I'm pleased to say that I was absolutely right in my decision and I actually really enjoyed "ATM" even though it's derivative of at least six other movies.

Let's get all the similarities out of the way to begin with. "ATM" is a bit like "Wind Chill", a little like "Phone Booth", sort of like "Judgment Night" and "Final Jeopardy", and a LOT like "Body Bags", "Urban Legend", "P2", "Cujo" and "Frozen". In fact, if you've seen any one of these movies then there won't be any great surprises for you.

Sometimes, however, you don't really need a lot of surprises or innovation to keep you entertained. Well, I know I don't. Think of all the people who watch the same formulaic slasher movies over and over again even though it's only the names of the characters and the locations which are different. I think we all know a recent meta-horror movie which explained why that works.

"ATM", in spite of not being the same kind of "ATM" as depicted in "The Human Centipede", is still a very enjoyable hour of horror goodness with 15 minutes tacked on as padding to the beginning and another 15 minutes added to spoil everything at the end.

Where it excels is in the acting and casting choices. While none of the characters are all that likeable initially, they all work within the logic of the story. Brian Geraghty's character, David, reminded me a lot of Tim from the original British version of "The Office" and I'm sure that Josh Peck's character, Corey, was modelled on just about anyone from the American version. I wouldn't know for sure because I don't watch that lacklustre crap.

Of course, the big draw for me was seeing Eddie Shoestring's daughter, Alice Eve. I didn't even know he had a daughter or that she was an actress. I also didn't realise that she was 30 years old and playing a twenty-something in the style of Reese Witherspoon until "ATM" either.


Don't get me wrong, I thought the characters worked well together. None of the actors gave a bad performance. The faults were purely with the script, the ludicrous situation and the characters' complete lack of balls to do anything about it, but, of course, it wouldn't have been much of a film if they had all just walked out together, got in their car and gone home.

As far as suspense goes, it really isn't a bad movie at all. There are some nicely done set pieces, but it isn't overly scary or gory unfortunately. At least it was R-rated and felt like a horror film for adults. Just like "The Strangers", it's all about what could happen at any time just because some psycho feels like ruining your day. Although I hated "The Strangers", I'll just emphasise again that I really liked "ATM".

What I liked most was the social commentary about the pussification of America. The characters are all so reliant on the laws of society, thinking they can appeal to the civilised part of a killer's nature, or, more simply, expecting some kind of automated help all the time instead of helping themselves, that they increase their chances of being victims with every action they take.

Something like this could and would only happen in America. You wouldn't find any Brits or Europeans getting trapped in a "Cash Point" lobby overnight because they would just run out, kick the would-be serial killer in the nuts, and laugh about it all the way back to the pub. "ATM" is blatantly aimed at paranoid, scared Americans who don't know what to do without their cars, cellphones and other technology, and pulls no punches in condemning them for it.

Maybe I'm just a cynical old Brit who, as an outsider, reads a lot more into crybaby, weakling, coddled American society than most people. I love it when a film like this comes along which so obviously hurls insults at the intended audience who are too dumb to pick up on it. When Alice/Reese/Emily put her own coat on David, I realised exactly what was going on.

I absolutely recommend "ATM" not as a horror movie per se but as a question for you to ask yourselves, "What would I do in this situation?"

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