Flicking Through Netflix: Halloween in June Special: ATM

Hello and welcome to a special Halloween in June episode of Flicking Through Netflix!  I’m finding it easier and easier for movies to defeat me lately.  The Smurfs was such a mess that I took it out in the middle of the third act.  Ted was so predictable that I had to eject it at the hour mark.  And today’s movie only lasted 40 minutes before I decided enough was enough.  Why?  Let’s see if I can explain why I hated ATM.

I find myself lacking the energy or brain capacity to accurately describe this movie’s plot.  So I’ll just let Netflix do it for me:  “When three co-workers make a midnight stop at a glass-enclosed ATM after their Christmas party, they find themselves trapped by a menacing man outside. Soon they’re fighting for their survival as the temperature plunges and the man toys with them.”  ~Netflix

The main problem of this movie is apparent from the first 5 minutes.  The dialogue and writing for it are abysmal.  Truly and completely cringe-worthy.  When the characters aren’t being horrendously awkward and hard to watch, they’re being  insanely stupid and asshole-ish.  Every word out of every mouth felt like a physical slap to my face.  I can’t even call these characters generic.  They’re not characters, they’re plot devices in human form.  They do nothing that makes them seem like they have brains.  Every move they make just feels like so much complete and utter idiocy.

Reading the premise, you’re probably reminded of Phone Booth, a suspense thriller where a man is trapped in a phone booth by a sniper.  Here’s the main difference between the two.  Phone Booth features a legitimate threat:  a man with a gun literally pointed at the main character’s head.  And it’s not a random shooting either.  The bad guy in Phone Booth had a plan for this specific character and would stop at nothing to see this plan through.  ATM features one guy, unarmed, who “looks big,” has no real character of his own because he never says a word or shows his face, doesn’t seem to be smarter than anyone else, and ultimately does not care who he’s killing as long as he’s killing someone.  Do you see the difference?  If not, let me explain.

Phone Booth’s killer is so much stronger as a character because he actually has a presence.  He’s a character in himself and not just a threat.  He shows off his smarts and his shooting skills with every move he makes.  ATM’s killer feels like a big mannequin that just looks scary but, as soon as you knock it over, it’s basically useless.  Simply put, he just never felt threatening.

I wanted to say “Well, at least the acting was half-way decent” but that’s just not true.  The acting for this movie can’t be called acting.  It can be called yelling and screaming and waving your arms around, but not acting.  This is in no fault of the actors, as they did a fine job with what they had.  The problem is, they had NOTHING.

Ultimately, this movie can be summed up with one word:  BORING.    It’s a semi-smart sounding premise with a terrible execution, beyond bad writing, and absolutely no suspense.  Don’t even waste your time on this, let alone your money.  I honestly recommend sitting at a bench and watching people use an actual ATM for an hour and a half.  You’ll get more enjoyment out of it.


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