Let's briefly analyze the quality of the character of each participant in the bloody game of money withdrawal. David is rather diffident and sneaky about revealing his affections. He is a terrible financial advisor parading as an expert. Emily is a ne'er do well that has been following David in order to strike up a relationship as if conjured from the gravity of her mere presence. Corey is immature but insanely fun. As an intoxicated friend he is brutally demanding and vexing. Their drive homeward takes them to a wayward ATM machine inside of a small building. There is an inexplicably massive parking lot surrounding the relatively small ATM infrastructure and there are few if any lights present.
Ironically, Corey is at least shown to be a quality investor and yet he has no money to withdraw as he bounces checks as well as Lebron bounces a basketball. David has lost at least one retiree's 401K and still has money to spare in his account. Alice is simply along for the ride to flirt with David. They have a sweet old-fashioned rapport. We can feel they will be a special couple. Except, that as soon as David takes out$500 a masked bystander appears outside of the ATM house. He is stonewalling them in a sense and will not budge. The three youths quickly assess their situation and draw the conclusion that the man is a criminal. Their worst fears are realizes when the cloaked man slaughters passers-by in cold blood and with apex predatory quickness.
This is not one of those films during which the audience can lambast the protagonists for acting stupidly in their own self-defense. The psychopath is cool and calculating and patient. He is manipulative and imaginative. He dissects and predicts the threesome's every moment. For every action of theirs he conjures a better and antithetical reaction. As the night wears on any chance of escape seems to be grim to none and the bloodletting ensues.
Hoping not to spoil the climax I will instead concentrate on the denouement. The killer is no ordinary thief. His intentions are not inherently those of a killer. He is playing a game and winning every time. He researches scenarios and anticipates outcomes. The three trapped youths do not really stand a chance. His goal is to commit crimes whereby the victims will be seen as the perpetrators. He is practiced and devious. These three poor young people just happened upon the wrong ATM machine at the wrong time on the wrong night.
ATM is thrilling and ingenious and really entertaining. The setting is perfect for a horror film. This is not some sorry commercial excuse for a horror thriller like a Phone Booth type of picture. ATM is an IFC horror film written by guileful writers with vivid imaginations and the ability to research perfect crimes. All I can tell you folks about the ending is Say Cheese!
Member Florida Film Critics Circle
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