Thursday, April 05, 2012

ATM: Parka Dude Attacks

Brace yourself for Parka Dude. The latest would be horror movie franchise figure is so bland and boring he does not even have a name or a face. However, he will thoroughly terrorize three young corporate drones stranded inside a stand-alone automated teller in David Brooks’ ATM (trailer here), which opens tomorrow in New York at the IFC Center.

David Hargrove always feels like a pathetic loser at his firm’s annual Christmas party, because he never can work up the courage to talk to his big time crush Emily Brandt. Yet, since this is Brandt’s final day with the company (and perhaps on Earth in general), his loud mouth buddy Corey Thompson successfully goads him into making one last try. However, just when Brandt agrees to let Hargrove drive her home, Thompson decides to play third wheel, insisting they drop him off too, but first stop for a slice of pizza. Of course, he has to hit a cash machine on the way, potentially signing their death warrant in the process.

Some large cat in a hooded parka evidently has a thing about terrorizing people in remote ATM islands. He has all the blue prints for the fateful kiosk Thompson chooses, but he does not have a bank card to get inside. Thus begins a game of cat and mouse, as Parka Dude lays siege to the ATM.

Naturally, everyone’s cell phone is either out of juice or out of reach. Still, that is more or less an acceptable horror movie convention. How sad is it though, that three able-bodied grown-ups cannot rush one faceless dude with a hooded coat and a tire iron? Instead, they stand about in said ATM, letting hunger and the freezing temperatures do Parka Dude’s work for him.

The most irritating thing about ATM is that is does not bother to give us the smallest pretense of resolution. Instead, after a climax involving a ludicrously contrived set of circumstances, we are assured Parka Dude is out there planning his next industrial park ATM outing. Maddeningly, screenwriter Chris Sparling gives viewers absolutely no reward for sitting through this exercise in stupid stalking, except the promise of more of the same to come.

As Brandt, Alice Eve nicely turns the film’s one well written scene. Before the entire mess comes crashing down, she attempts to alleviate Hargrove’s guilt over getting her into this fix. Rather philosophically, she argues it was a myriad of decisions she made over the course of years that led her to be in that ATM on that night. It might be a valid point, but viewers will not be pinning the responsibility on Hargrove. We blame Thompson, just for being such an annoying jerkheel.

This is the kind of film that makes an audience audibly groan in frustration. However, it does not have enough character to at least be campy. In fact, both the lead protagonist and his malevolent nemesis are irredeemably generic. Completely unsatisfying, ATM should definitely be skipped when it opens tomorrow (4/6) in New York at the IFC Center.