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'ATM' brings common fear to life in chilling fashion

Aug. 7, 2012 |

By G. Michael Dobbs news@thereminder.com A surprising thriller and a very unfunny comedy are featured in this week's DVD review column.
This taut economic thriller doesn't waste any moment of screen time in its effort to present a truly terrifying story — one that is completely plausible. Brian Geraghty stars as David, a young man working at a financial company. It's the Christmas season and he sees the company's party as the last chance he has to speak with a co-worker, Emily, (played by Alice Eve) before she leaves for another job. Goaded by his friend Corey (Josh Peck), David manages to speak with her and offers her a ride home, which she gladly accepts. The problem is the loudmouth and slightly drunk Corey also demands a ride. Hungry, but without cash, Corey then asks David stops at an ATM in the middle of a parking lot after midnight. After all three of the main characters are in the ATM building they spot a tall man in a parka standing outside apparently waiting for them to leave. He demonstrates his intentions when he brutally kills a man out walking his dog. This is director David Brook's first feature film and he does well in creating a realistic thriller. Writer Chris Sparling's screenplay is full of surprises and the film had my wife and I jumping at several moments. What this film accomplishes with four characters and one principal set is impressive. I can say that I will think twice before ever using a standalone ATM late at night after seeing this film!
Web Therapy: The Complete First Season
I wonder if anyone has done some sort of flow chart about the post-"Friends" careers of the stars of that esteemed sit-com. Certainly there have been more misses than hits, and this Showtime series starring Lisa Kudrow certainly falls within my "miss" column. The concept is clever. Kudrow plays Fiona Wallice, a therapist who doesn't like seeing patients in person and loathes a 50-minute appointment. With the help of computers and web cams, she comes up with a new format in therapy: three-minute meetings through the Internet. The result is supposed to be funny as the completely self-absorbed incompetent therapist denigrates her patients as they sincerely seek some sort of solution for their problems. Wallace manages to take every session and turn the conversation to her own issues. The result is comedy born out of the pain of the innocents, which is not my favorite type of humor. Part of this show is done as improvisation and Kudrow has her role down pat. It is a variation of "Phoebe" on "Friends," who was also self-absorbed, not just as maliciously as this character. While I think Kudrow is a solid actress her post-"Friends" dramatic roles have showcased her talent — I just didn't find this character appealing or funny.

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