Film Review: ATM

<i>ATM </i>doesn't pretend to be anything except what it is: a lean, mean little thriller in which three co-workers, a little buzzed after the office Christmas party, make a late-night stop at an isolated ATM and wish they hadn't.

David and Corey (Brian Geraghty and Josh Peck) are the kind of best buds more loved by screenwriters than prevalent in real life, the good guy and the cocky swordsman. They work together at the soul-sucking, corporate circle of hell that is Starkweather Financial, where on the rare occasion that some attractive girl takes a wrong turn at human resources, Corey adds a notch to his bedpost and David mopes around wondering what he's doing wrong, other than nothing: Apparently he was behind the door when everyone else got the memo that if you want to go on dates with girls, you have to start by talking to them.

But today, the day of the office Christmas party, Corey is feeling magnanimous. So he encourages David to chat up Emily (Alice Eve)—it's her last day on the job, so it's now or never. And amazingly enough, Emily accepts David's offer of a lift home. How cool is that? Even if Corey rudely insists that David promised him a lift home first and inserts himself into their romantic ride. And as if that isn't bad enough, Corey insists that they stop at a deserted ATM in the middle of a parking lot because he's out of cash.

And that's where they run afoul of Parka Man. Who is Parka Man? Who knows? But his face is hidden in the shadowy recesses of a fake-fur trimmed hood, he's got a tire iron and he isn't afraid to use it. It's freezing cold and David's car is a couple of hundred feet from the ATM kiosk; they can't make a run for it—no matter how you cut it, Parka Man is between them and the car—and not one of them has a functioning cell-phone. What are their options and what are the odds that all three will make it out alive?

Masochistic fans of extreme-survival movies ranging from Survive (1976), based on the real-life 1972 story of an Uruguayan soccer team stranded by a plane crash for five weeks in the frozen Andes, to, well, 2010's Frozen (three unprepared skiers are stranded on a T-lift when the staff of a weekends-only resort forgets they're there) know exactly what ATM brings to the table: desperation, claustrophobia, and a dizzying sense of the everyday transformed into a near-unimaginable nightmare.

Scripted by Chris Sparling, who also wrote the nightmarish Ryan Reynolds movie Buried, ATM isn't going to change anyone's life. But for fans of thrillers and psychological horror, it's a pleasant—make that unpleasant—little diversion whose "twist" ending is thoroughly predictable but bracingly cruel nonetheless.