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23 May 2012


Next time you go to an ATM lobby, look behind you!

Director: David Brooks

Screenplay: Chris Sparling

Cast: Brian Geraghty, Josh Peck, Alice Eve

If there's a lesson to learn, ATM teaches us that context is everything. Imagine a claustrophobic film about some guy who is trapped in a coffin for its entire duration, waiting for someone to extricate him from a certain death that's promised by a terrorist. That would be Buried, the surprise hit of 2010, starring Ryan Reynolds. Now imagine a claustrophobic film about three office colleagues trapped in an ATM lobby for its entire duration, waiting for someone to extricate them from a certain death that's promised by a serial killer. Why certain death? It's the wee hours of a winter morning and they haven't the cow sense to wear winter clothing. That would be the straight-to-DVD (at least in the US) flick ATM. Incidentally, the person to blame for ATM is the creative genius whom we all praised for the script of Buried. I guess that's karma for you. Or Hollywood stunt casting, now applied to scriptwriters.

The problem with ATM is how much bad writing, preposterous coincidences, and a build-up of a critical mass of stupidity in the entire cast of characters is needed to produce such a premise. It's like watching one of those slasher flicks lampooned by last month's Cabin in the Woods where the slasher is all too omniscient and omnipotent only because of the blatant stupidity of his victims.

The disappointment of ATM is that the very high concept of the film itself – three people trapped in a tiny little ATM lobby face off a serial killer – demands actual good writing instead of a by-the-numbers slasher flick script. And by taking the by-the-numbers route, it actually becomes a way below par slasher flick.

We recommend watching ATM as a double bill with Buried as they're both written by Sparling. It's amazing that both films are so similar and yet turned out so remarkably different.

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