ATM – Film Review
Well, this isn’t quite it.
But you know what? I’m tired of looking. ATM is close enough.
Except for that ending. Good god.
Side note: if someone comes in here and tells me that that I missed something and the killer is shown to be tampering with the security footage and I’m utterly wrong, then touché. But I hope they don’t. That would be awkward.
TL;DR The only downside to ATM is its bullshit “twist” ending, which fails because it’s both embarrassingly obvious and implausible. But an impressive cast, pacing, effects and concept make this a truly worthwhile horror watch. 3 out of 5 stars.
It would have been an easy 4 without that ending.
The plot is thankfully simple. Brian Geraghty is some finance worker slave. He ends up giving Alice Eve, his coworker love interest, a ride home from their office Christmas party. Along for the ride is Brian’s douchebag colleague/friend Josh Peck, who insists they stop at an ATM (title drop!) so he can get money for a pizza or something (he’s got the drunk munchies). Naturally, they are besieged by a hooded figure who wants to kill them/anyone who comes in contact with the ATM while they’re in it. Typical slasher/killer movie events ensue. Eventually only Brian is still alive, but before he and the killer can have their final showdown, the police finally arrive. The twist is that the ATM security camera only caught footage that made Brian look like a maniac, and he’s arrested.
I’m not even kidding, this ending is absolute trash. The ATM security camera only records a certain field of view, which means the killer isn’t in shot at any time. During the ending sequence, we see the police watching snippets (which we had been seeing throughout the movie, so we knew this was coming) of things the camera has caught, such as when Brian and Josh murder a guy because they thought he was the killer. The camera cuts out just before the killer does the whole “flooding the booth” thing.
The problem is that we never see the killer tamper with the camera. So realistically, that camera should have recorded constantly throughout the night. Which would have shown Brian, Alice and Josh acting like they’re being besieged by a psychopath for hours on end (which Brian’s statement could confirm). The police are even shown watching the footage immediately at the scene, so it’s not like the killer had any opportunity to go in and edit it.
Why I hate this movie:
The other option, of course, is that the killer has somehow set up the camera prior to our heroes’ arrival to record only tiny little bits every so often. For that theory to work, though, we have to believe that the camera just so happened to pick up exactly what the killer needed it to. Perfectly. The whole night. If you don’t know me, then I should inform you that I do not find that believable at all. Just another dumb, twist ending that spoils an otherwise straightforward, competent horror movie.
While I am thankful for the known cast, I had to stop and constantly question why Alice Eve and Josh Peck are in an unambitious, run-of-the-mill horror movie.
As a Queenslander (‘Straya cunt), I had a hard time understanding the temperature situation. I had to keep checking my climate privilege.
I didn’t believe for a second that the guy Josh and Brian were attacking was the killer.
The metal rubbish bin they use to set off the sprinkler should have been too hot to hold.
Why is this ATM booth’s carpark so enormous? Can any American readers confirm this for me?
Another very obvious thing that the full footage would show the police: Alice writing “help” on the glass in lipstick. Unless they run some logic hurdles and assume she was trying to lure people in for the boys to kill? God, that ending sucks.
Alice’s death scene is pretty arbitrary. The booth is filling up with water, so she gets on Brian’s shoulders with a flaming trashcan so they can set off the sprinkler and fire alarm, which will bring the authorities running. They do this, and then Alice falls off of Brian’s shoulders at just the right angle to fatally smash her head against a bench. Gosh, the only break this girl can catch is the one in her skull.
Oh, and as you already know I’m a sucker for post-scream slashers, I was a little miffed that we never found out what the killer’s motive was.
Reasons to watch:
Atrocious ending aside, this is exactly what I’m looking for in a low profile, low(ish) budget horror movie. The scope is only as big as it needs to be, there are only enough characters as there needs to be, and the tension is preserved throughout.
The chemistry between the 3 leads is wonderful. Though they do fall into standard paranoia territory later, their interaction before the arrival at the ATM is natural as fuck. Josh Peck does a fantastic tipsy douchebag 3rd wheel cockblock, Brian is sincere as the good guy lead, and Alice is flirty, but not submissive, as the love interest.
The killer is smart. He sets up a chest-height tripwire around the ATM to prevent them running (Josh finds that out). It’s also shown that he’s meticulously planned this out (and several other setups) for a while. My favourite tactic was the flooding. Considering they’re already literally freezing to death, that’s fuckin’ brutal, bro. Perfect.
The gang isn’t without their resourcefulness. They try bribing the killer, but it fails. Brian even braves running to the car to grab Alice’s phone, but that doesn’t work out, either. The fire trick to alert the authorities was genius. The boys totally kill a guy. And after the killer crashes a car into the booth, letting out the water, Brian MacGuyvers a Molotov cocktail to attack the killer with (it hits a propped up body, but whatever).
Alice has some good points to make that are very slasher movie relevant. She’s musing about fate as her and Brian try not to freeze to death. She talks about how they feel entitled to be protected from harm because they haven’t done anything wrong. It’s an important point to make regarding general tropes and approaches to slasher/horror movies. It’s not quite The Cabin in the Woods level meta discussion, but I was impressed.
She also has a positive attitude about how they shouldn’t be looking to blame anyone for the randomness of fate. Such subversion!
Best line actually goes to Josh, who likes to party: “Streamers and bitches: that’s what it’s all about. That is life.” Ikr.
Josh steals that guy they killed’s jacket to keep warm. Practicality is key.
The killer stabs Josh with a screwdriver. Ouch, man.
Alice and Brian try to rescue Josh, which is nice.
The gang’s reaction to killing that random guy is entirely appropriate (they freak the fuck out).
Oh, and the body that Brian hits with the Molotov also doubles as a mace-spraying boobytrap. Double burn (literally).
It was so close to being not shit, but I am sick to death of twist endings in horror movies. This one moreso, because it doesn’t even work. 3 out of 5 stars.