The success of films set entirely in one location depends entirely on the actors, especially when the number is minimal. A film like Phone Booth, for example, features a large and varied cast to make Colin Farrell’s faux-American accent overshadowed by Forest Whitaker and Kiefer Sutherland’s decidedly creepy voice. Buried, by comparison, is sustained entirely by a phenomenal performance by Ryan Reynolds. As a result, the newest film by Buried screenwriter Chris Sparling was anticipated by most, but ATM proves that lightning doesn’t strike twice.
ATM is a paint-by-numbers thriller set almost entirely within an ATM vestibule on a cold, winter night. After leaving a Christmas party, co-workers Corey, David, and Emily make a quick stop at an ATM machine before David has a chance to make a move on Emily. While there, they notice a man wearing a large coat standing outside the ATM vestibule, waiting for them. As the night progresses, it’s clear the man has other plans for them, trapping the trio with nowhere to go.
ATM is a broken film, as if someone cobbled together a hodgepodge of scenes and called it a movie. It lacks the fluidity of Buried, jumping from one unfortunate situation to the next set up without so much as inkling of information alluding to why they’re trapped in a booth and who might be doing it. It’s all style and no substance, and even then the style is lacking anything worth mentioning. It’s Grade B, straight-to-DVD mediocrity, made all the more unbearable by the lackluster performances of the three leads.
Alice Eve, known as the resident hot chick in She’s Out of Your League, simply can’t play scared without it looking forced or, in one particular scene, absolutely blaise. Brian Geraghty phones it in throughout, displaying about as much charisma and personality as the silent stalker who seeks to make their Christmas less than jolly, while Josh Peck just kind of mumbles his lines without anything resembling emotion. In one scene, both men harp at each other over a drastic decision, leading the two of them to come to blows. It offers up an opportunity to bring a little bit of emotion to their unfortunate situation, but both play it so stone-faced that it fails to turn the tide.
ATM is one of those films that, on paper, has serious potential. Director David Brooks, unfortunately, failed to instill in it anything that resembles real suspense, preferring instead to give us an hour and a half of three boring characters doing stupid things as a silent guy in a mask stands around and watches.