ATM (2012)

You know what drives me absolutely bonkers? When I pop in a DVD and before it even gets to the title menu I’m presented with a choice between the theatrical version and the director’s cut. Making a selection sends you down one of two distinct paths from which there is no way back without ejecting the disc and starting over. And some newer players remember your choice, refusing to let you change your mind even after reinserting the DVD. People, if you’re wondering when we’ll see the first salvo in the robot apocalypse, look no further than spiteful A/V components with elephant memories.

The worst part is, how do you know which version to choose? If you’ve already seen the movie in the theater, the choice is easy. But what if you haven’t? Is the director’s version a purer representation of the film’s essential artistic vision, unsullied by meddling  studio bosses? Or is it just the 90-minute wide release with an extra nude scene and eleven more minutes of unfinished CG viscera? They should really tell you these things  before forcing you to make a choice that will determine the next two hours of your life. For my viewing of ATM I compromised by selecting the theatrical cut and taking my pants off. Can’t do THAT in the theater.

If you had picked the director’s cut, I’d be topless…

The story: There are minor characters who appear for a minute or two here and there but there are really just four people in this tale: a lone psycho with a plan and his three intended targets. There’s an alpha male stock broker (who bizarrely doesn’t have enough cash for cab fare), his dashing yet unreasonably insecure colleague, and the ever-so-common 24-year-old bombshell who is just too darn shy to talk to the dopey, introverted banker of her dreams. They’re all super compelling characters.

The real horror would be a movie called ATM Fee.

On their way home from an office Christmas party they stop at a freestanding ATM vestibule in the middle of a deserted parking lot. They’re just about to leave when they notice a big dude in an ominous hooded parka (John Carpenter says, “You’re welcome!”) waiting for them outside. He’s been mapping this out for a while in his evil lair/storage unit, you see. If his investment pans out, this will be their final withdrawal. No, wait- he’s going to…cash them out. Or, no! He’ll close their accounts…FOR GOOD. That’s it.


Biggest letdown: If you’ve seen one of these waiting-to-die survival flicks you’ve seen them all. ATM is basically Open Water, except instead of sharks it’s a guy with a tire iron. It’s significantly harder to buy into. Even if the guy is big and strong and super prepared (he is) he’s just one person and there are a shit ton of variables. Accounting for all of them would take way more than blueprints and a protractor. His flawless prescience amounts to the proverbial stacked deck, which sucks a lot of the drama out of the struggle. Also, his plan would fail if even one of the victims had a cell phone, which 99% of all people never go anywhere without. Lucky for him these three don’t have one working phone between them.

Ooh, artsy.

Why you should watch: The one thing you can say about this horror sub-genre is it produces some “serious” movies. Actors have to go balls out, really pushing themselves to imagine the effect of utter hopelessness and exhaustion on their psyches. I prefer movies like Frozen, where the primary danger is an irresistible force that can’t be personified – cold, dehydration, starvation, stuff like that. The psychology takes a bit of a back seat when the waiting menace is a guy in snow pants. Still, you get to see a trio of green but committed young actors give it their all, if you’re into that sort of thing. And at the very least it’s a decent reminder of how vulnerable we all can be if the wrong person were to catch us at the right moment.

Freezing to death in a glass box is no reason to hide that beautiful smile.

Memorable Moment: Meh. There are a few decent bits but movies like this rely on the well-timed introduction of unexpected outside elements. Talking about any of those would undermine what little novelty this movie has. Instead, I’ll go with something that still has me scratching my head. Pretty deep into the movie, after all manner of horrific shit has gone down and things are about as bad as they can get, our bashful financier and his awkward beauty decide it’s the perfect time to lean in for that magical first kiss. Though I hate to give anything away, I’m compelled to point out that just beyond that romantic two-shot, not three feet away, there is a DEAD BODY. Makes you wonder which side of the glass has more sociopathy on it.

Choice quote: “Nothing says ‘good time’ like streamers.”

About the Rating System

4 Responses to “ATM (2012)”

  1. This could have been way worse…they could have called it “ATM Machine”

  2. […] ATM – Transaction declined. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: