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The recent thriller Buried concerned a man trapped in an underground coffin. Apparently its screenwriter Chris Sparling found that situation just a little too claustrophobic, so his latest effort is largely set in the relatively airy confines of an ATM.
The scariest experience most viewers have probably had with an automatic teller machine is seeing the balance on their accounts. Not so for the would-be victims in this gimmicky horror film directed by David Brooks.
One late night after an office party, they stop by an ATM kiosk in a remote, dimly lit parking lot. Even though the temperature is below freezing and the winds are howling, none are dressed for the weather, unlike the hooded parka-wearing menacing figure who suddenly appears outside.
After a short discussion about whether the stranger means them harm or is simply waiting to use the ATM, the issue is suddenly settled when he savagely murders a hapless passerby. Since the group inexplicably parked all the way across the deserted parking lot, it becomes an extended cat and mouse game as they try to escape to their car before the killer can force his way in.
As with so many films of this ilk, plot holes and inconsistencies abound, with audiences likely to express in loudly vocal fashion their opinions about what the characters should or shouldn’t be doing. Ultimately the sheer silliness and predictability of the proceedings—you can probably guess what happens to the lone security guard who stops by—gives the film an unintentional comic tone.
The villain–whose features are apparently rendered invisible just by his wearing a furry hood–is of the nondescript Michael Myers variety, although unlike that iconic Halloween character this one seems to have done some serious research, as evidenced by the ATM blueprints he’s seen avidly perusing.
At least until the bad things start happening to their characters, Geraghty and Eve make for an appealing, attractive couple, and Peck charismatically fulfills his role as the resident asshole who is a staple of such genre efforts.
Technical credits are fine, with director Brooks skillfully making the most of the limited physical environment.
Opens April 6 (IFC Films)
Cast: Alice Eve, Josh Peck, Brian Geraghty, Mike O’Brien, Robert Huculak, Ernesto Griffith
Director/editor: David Brooks
Screenwriter: Chris Sparling
Producers: Paul Brooks, Peter Safran
Executive producers: Dan Clifton, Joe MacCarthy, Leon Clarance, Scott Niemeyer
Director of photography: Bengt Jan Jonsson
Production designer: Craig Sandells
Costume designer: Patti Henderson
Music: David Buckley
Rated R, 90 min
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