The Movie Waffler New Release Review - ATM | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - ATM

Directed by: David Brooks
Starring: Alice Eve, Josh Peck, Brian Geraghty

First time director Brooks sets his debut in an ATM booth but the only withdrawal will be that of the viewer's patience.
The horror genre has often reflected the fears of the times. Movies like Universal's "Dracula" and "The Mummy" exploited America's fear of immigrants and European fascism in the thirties. During the Vietnam era the likes of "Deliverance" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" preyed on young men's anxiety of finding themselves out of their depth in an unknown and dangerous territory. If there's one overbearing fear in our current time it's the fear of poverty. Brooks and screenwriter Chris Sparling make a half-hearted attempt at commenting on the financial crisis. The three protagonists are employees of an investment firm and of course we have the setting of an ATM booth. Bad move. Financial workers have become the new traffic wardens, it's the most despised occupation there is now so if this is the job of your protagonists you better work hard to get the audience on their side. It doesn't help that these characters make such stupid decisions that you just want them to get offed as quickly as possible.
Following a Christmas office party the three co-workers find themselves stopping off at an ATM booth in the middle of a large deserted parking lot. When a hooded figure kills a dog-walker outside the booth they are too scared to leave and spend the night being menaced by the mystery killer while trying to figure out an escape plan.
Writing a contemporary horror movie is getting tougher as technology progresses. One of the key themes of horror is isolation but we live in a world where it's increasingly difficult to be isolated. Sparling really struggles with this challenge and ends up digging plotholes into his story. There are so many moments that will have you cringing, for example:

  • a character forgets to take his mobile phone with him. 
  • another character's phone battery is dead.
  • the third character leaves their phone in their handbag, inside an unlocked car.
  • the car is parked as far away from the ATM as possible, for no apparent reason.
  • the killer is often a considerable distance from the booth, giving them ample opportunity to make a break for it.
  • at one point the antagonist traps them in the booth by jamming a car against it's door. Somehow nobody thinks to just pull it open. We know it opens inwards because we saw this when they entered first and it's repeated at the end in a montage of CCTV footage.
With just a bit of thought and a closer analysis of the script this could have been a tight little thriller. As it is it's like checking your bank account, there's a lot less in it than you had hoped for.