I have stated before that I really like horror films. I even tend to like very sub par horror films. I used to go out of way to see bad horror movies. I stopped doing this for a while, because, frankly, I just didn’t have the time to watch bad movies, but I went out of my way to watch this film. I knew that it would probably be terrible, but it was a B-horror movie that starred Josh Peck of Drake and Josh fame. I had to see it.
Let me start off with the acting. There are 3 main actors and then the killer. There are two guys and a girl. The girl is Alice Eve and she is… just awful. I mean really bad, and it doesn’t help that her character is poorly written. The guy who isn’t Josh is Brian Geraghty. He’s… passable I guess, most of the time, but in certain moments he shows a severe lack of talent. Overacting to the point of unintentional comedy.
Josh Peck is the best actor in the film. I actually think he’s a really good actor, and I would like to see him getting better roles in the future. He’s very underrated. He makes the most of his lines, but he can’t salvage the terrible writing. The killer doesn’t really require much acting. He doesn’t say anything and they keep his face hidden for the entire movie (except for one shot in the beginning of the film where you can clearly see his face, but the movie pretends that didn’t happen.) So really he could’ve been played by anyone.
Okay, time for the story. It’s exceedingly weak. The writing is just dreadful. This movie is honestly just really stupid. I’m going to be saying that word a lot. That’s the best word to describe it. As the movie goes on, there are more and more just plain stupid moments, that I will talk about later on. The characters are somewhat developed, but only through heavy fisted exposition. The plot can be summed up as such: 3 coworkers go to an ATM where an extremely convoluted killer lies in wait. That’s basically it.
The problem could be remedied at any moment through a number of means, but it never happens. There is no tension in the film, because there is no real danger. The characters are too stupid to realize that they could very easily get away. In fact they do. Multiple times. One of the characters even gets into a working car and instead of driving away, sits in the passenger seat for 30 seconds, then gets out of the car and runs back to the Goddamn ATM. There are plenty of opportunities where the killer is behind the ATM and it’s a straight shot to the car and there is no reason why they don’t just run. The killer does not have super speed. The killer can not see through the ATM. They could just quietly walk out of the ATM and the problem would be solved.
The killer is remarkably nonthreatening. He’s just a regular guy. He doesn’t even have a weapon. He just stands there staring at them, and they get scared for some reason. When they first see the guy, he’s just some dude walking to an ATM, and they’re already scared. One of the characters says “Something’s wrong with this guy, why would he be at an ATM at midnight” Seriously? YOU are at an ATM at midnight. Why would you assume he’s a killer?
Multiple times in the movie Josh’s character says “He’s just some guy, there’s three of us and only one of him. Why don’t we just rush him?” Yes. Why not? There is no reason. The guy is not a super hero they could very easily deal with him, and they don’t.
The killer doesn’t actually do anything to them. He just looks at them from far away and occasionally knocks on the back of the ATM. For some reason this scares the crap out of the people in the ATM. There is another line in the film which once again points out a plothole , so obviously the writers knew it was there and chose to ignore it. “He isn’t coming near us, why don’t we just stay here until morning?” Seems like a reasonable solution. Not as reasonable as just walking away, but still, it would work I suppose. Well the movie does actually try to answer this, but they do a terrible job. Their answer to the question is “Because we’ll freeze.” Really? You’re not in the antarctic, you’re in an ATM, you have suitable clothing. They wouldn’t freeze to death by spending the night in an ATM, that’s just stupid.
The plot is very shallow, and seems better suited to a short film. There are several short films called ATM but they have no relation. The plot is just a mess and is filled with stupid and pointless moments.
The killer has no known motivation which is fine, but he doesn’t have much of a plan either. The ending of the film has a “Plot twist” which is hard to do when there isn’t much plot for twisting. It ends by showing that the killer has all the ATMs in the city mapped out. He even has the range of the security cameras marked out, which explains why he doesn’t get too close to the door.
Now, the problem with all of this is that the killer’s convoluted plan consists of a group of idiots showing up at an ATM at midnight, parking ludicrously far away, none of them have a working cellphone, and none of them have enough common sense to do anything productive. Also keep in mind the fact that the killer did not lure these specific people here. They just happened to wander by.
Is there at least any good gore? It is a horror film after all. Well the answer is a resounding no. Only a few people die, and there’s nothing new added to the formula. It’s just the same old slasher game plan. They even try to add drama through the deaths of certain characters. The film completely fails on this count. It tries to invoke the emotion of sadness, while actually invoking laughter.
What can I say that’s good about the film? The cinematography’s not bad. Yeah, it goes overboard on the shaky-cam sometimes, but there are some nicely framed shots. That’s honestly about it though. The film’s well compiled I suppose. Conversations flow well and all, but that’s something that every film should have and for the most part does. I can’t think of anything else that was of high quality in the film.
There are copious amounts of plot holes, and inaccuracies in the film. ATM takes an odd approach to solving this problem. Instead of remedying the screenplay and fixing the errors, they elected to give that task to one of the characters within the film. Josh’s character constantly points out plot holes, and then the film just moves on, without giving an explanation to the contrary. I guess they figured that by having a character point out plot holes that the plot holes ceased to exist. That’s really screwed up logic
Near the end of the film the extremely forced female character dies. This is supposed to be the most dramatic part of the film and it completely failed on all counts. The characters on screen are crying in anguish as the audience is laughing at the stupidity of the moment. I’ll explain what happens but it needs a little lead up.
The killer starts pumping water into the ATM, to freeze them I guess as convoluted as that sounds, and for some reason the people in the ATM think that the only solution to water being pumped into the ATM is to trigger the sprinklers and have even more water be pumped into the ATM. The fire alarm would trigger the police, but they didn’t just realize that, they figured it out much earlier on in the film.
While they try to trigger the fire alarm the girl gets on the guy’s shoulders and they stand up on a counter and then hilarity ensues. The guy slips off the counter and bashes the girl’s head off the counter. It should have been set to cartoon sound effects.
At one point Josh tries to run out of the ATM. He is clothes lined by an invisible tripwire. Yes the movie is that stupid. At some point the killer set of a trip wire in the middle of the parking lot, yet he and the other characters have walked through the same spot without interacting with it some how. Josh lies there on the ground like an idiot and waits for the killer to come over and stab him to death. Or at least you’re meant to think that for a while. Later on in the film he arrives back at the ATM. Yes, he comes back to the ATM again. He crawled through the parking lot just to get back to the ATM. Why? Why? Did he just feel like dying in the ATM instead of in the parking lot? And if he felt like crawling, why would he crawl back to the ATM? Why not to the car? Or just away from the ATM?
There is another “Plot twist” that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The film ends with the police thinking that the one surviving guy from the ATM killed the others, which doesn’t make any sense. The police come to this conclusion from the fact that he’s the only one alive, and from the footage from the ATM camera. I’ll start by addressing the first reason. I don’t see why they would come to the conclusion that he’s the killer and not another victim. They shouldn’t just assume that. They have no real reason to think he’s the killer other than the fact that he’s the only one alive. I wouldn’t consider that probable cause. The other bit of supposedly incriminating evidence is the security camera footage. At the end of the film they show some clips of the footage that’s all cut out of order and makes it look like the survivor is the killer. This makes absolutely no sense when you think about it. First off, security camera do not just record little incriminating snippets of footage, they record everything, so the police would see everything. They would see all the times that the people work together, they would see someone else crash a car through the side of the ATM, so it obviously couldn’t be him, they would see that it was clearly an accident that the girl died, they would see that all the people in the booth are clearly afraid of something else outside of the booth, not the guy in the booth, there’s such a ludicrous amount of plot holes that it’s really hard to keep track of all of them.
This film is absolutely dreadful. It does have many moments of unintentional hilarity, so I would almost says it’s worth watching because it’s hilariously bad, but it’s not worth enduring. Don’t watch ATM unless you want cheap and dirty laughs at the expense of a bad film.