Horror. Worldview. Faith.

ATM – Review

ATM – Review

Oct 7, 2012

reviewed by Melissa
directed by David Brooks, 2012

I sat down to watch ATM with zero knowledge about the film except that it takes place in an ATM enclosure. I was excited to view the film because I love movies that take place in one location, and every person I know has made at least one ill advised late night stop to the ATM. I was also delighted to discover Chris Sparling was the director of ATM, as I am a fan of his claustrophobic movie Buried.

ATM begins with three co-workers; Emily, David, and Cory; leaving a work Christmas party to go home. David has finally worked up the courage to ask Emily out and offers her a ride home. Cory, the ultimate jerk, talks David into giving him a ride home too. Cory decides he is hungry on the way home and needs to stop at the ATM to get cash for a pizza. They find an ATM that is a building that you must swipe your card for the door to open.  Cory’s ATM card does not work and David goes in to help, who is then followed by Emily.  Once all three of them are in the building they notice someone standing on the outside. The man, whose face we never see, begins to play a cat and mouse game with them that lasts throughout the rest of the night.

The premise of ATM was excellent but the execution has severe flaws. The acting was subpar at best with Alice Eve’s portrayal of Emily being completely unbelievable. Josh Peck plays Cory and does a decent job of being a real jerk if not a little bit over the top. Brian Geraghty is by far the strongest actor in the film, although he plays David a little too nice for my taste. The main problem I have with the movie is the characters make terrible decisions which only serve to extend the length of the film. The plot moves fairly slow and very predictable. I had figured out the ending twenty minutes into the movie. I was very disappointed in the film because I think the premise has great potential. I would not recommend this movie except to teach you a lesson about late night stopping at the ATM.

The Last Exorcism – Review

The Last Exorcism – Review

Aug 28, 2010

reviewed by Melissa
directed by Daniel Stamm, 2010
(read Skot’s review here)

The Last Exorcism is directed by Daniel Stamm produced be Eli Roth and stars Patrick Fabian and Ashley Bell.   It is the story of a disillusioned preacher who has decided to do a documentary showing how exorcisms can be faked.   The movie begins with Reverend Cotton Marcus being filmed for a documentary exposing exorcism hoaxes. Cotton has done over a hundred exorcisms and has decided to prove that they are a hoax after reading about a boy that was killed during an exorcism. Patrick has gathered a film crew for one last exorcism to expose how he fools people into believing he has exorcised a demon.

Cotton randomly picks a letter he has received about a girl who is possessed named Nell Sweetzer. Patrick and the crew go to the Sweetzer rural farmhouse where the sixteen year old lives with her older brother and father. Once they arrive Cotton realizes that Nell has problems. Having lost her mother to cancer she seems to be suffering psychological issues and is killing the family livestock, though she has no memory of these acts.   Cotton does a fake exorcism and then tells the family she is fine and leaves to go to a hotel for the night. Nell shows up at Cotton’s hotel room that evening in a catatonic state. Cotton and the film crew take Nell to the hospital and then back home. The next day Nell attacks her brother Caleb which prompts the return of Reverend Cotton and the film crew.

The remainder of the movie takes place with Cotton and the film crew trying to talk Nell’s father in to the fact his daughter needs counseling and her father convinced she is possessed by a demon.  While this debate is going on Nell is spiraling out of control with devastating results.

I was incredibly excited to see this movie and the first 80 minutes of it did not let me down. From the opening scene with Cotton I liked him. He was a fraud but I took to him and he made me laugh. He does seem to care about people and this is why he is out to expose exorcisms as hoaxes. He has lost his faith but through out the whole movie I was cheering for him and hoping he regained it.

I thought the cinematography was engrossing and felt like a documentary. I felt like I was watching something on the Discovery channel. The camera did an amazing job of searching out the rooms and catching a glimpse of what was going on beyond the camera lens. I would hear noises and was afraid what the camera was going to find, and there were really no cheap shocks in the entire movie. I also thought the movie built at a very good pace. I felt engrossed with the characters and I was involved with the plot. The movie kept building and building at a steady pace to the climax. That is where the movie takes a turn for the worse. The last 10 minutes of the film disgusted me as all this incredible build up was destroyed in one cheesy conclusion. I say that because I loved the film up to that point and was very involved, then they tied up the story line in 10 minutes and it was uninspired.

The movie was ruined for me with the ending but it is worth a see because Patrick Fabian and Ashley Bell do an outstanding job and the cinematography helps to propel the storyline.

The Ruins – Review

The Ruins – Review

Jan 25, 2010

reviewed by Melissa
directed by Carter Smith, 2008

The Ruins is Carter Smith’s adaptation of Scott Smith’s sophomore novel of the same name. Scott Smith also helmed the writing of the screen play. For those who do not know, Scott Smith’s first novel was A Simple Plan, which was adapted for screen and directed by Sam Raimi.

The film opens with an intense scene of a woman sitting in the dark crying and trying desperately to get a cell phone signal then being yanked into the darkness.

We then transition to Jeff, Amy, Eric and Stacy, who are two twenty-something couples vacationing in Mexico and vegging by the resort pool. In predictable fashion a fifth vacationer, Mathias, inserts himself into the group and convinces the couples to venture with him to a remote Mayan temple. Mathias wants to travel to the temple to find his brother who has gone to the site with a female archeologist who is excavating the temple. Needless to say after a drunken night of partying they meet early the next morning to travel to the temple with a sixth person, Dimitri. Foreshadowing the fact that they are making a bad decision we have a taxi that refuses to drive them to the hiking trail until bribed, two creepy children staring at them from the jungle as they search for the path, and when they find the path it has been deliberately hidden. Once they finally reach the temple I expected the pace of the film to pick up – I was wrong.

Immediately after the group arrives at the temple, some locals show up and start screaming at them in a language no one understands. As the group retreats from the locals toward the temple,  Amy and Dimitri step on some vines covering the temple and the locals begin brandishing weapons. When Dimitri steps off the vine towards the locals he is shot and killed and the rest of the group is herded up onto the top of the temple where the rest of the film takes place. Trapped between the locals and the evil that resides at the temple.

The Ruins is a slow paced movie that never really has another scary moment beyond the opening scene. The characters quickly settle into stereotypical roles including one who wants to make a run for it, one that wants to wait for rescue, one that goes berserk, one that keeps the group together, and an injured one. The worst part about the characters is none of them make any attempt to fight the evil, which is a bloodthirsty climbing vine that is about as scary as a ficus.

We are treated to a few gory scenes including a double amputation and the attempts by one character to cut pieces of the vine out of her own body. While these scenes were fairly intense, they were not enough to carry the movie. I was happy the premise of the film was different than the usual tourist horror movies however it quickly fell into the same old clichés.  The movie ends in such a way as to leave room for a sequel, which the director is quoted as saying was not his intent. This is a good thing.

Overall The Ruins was slow, the characters flat, and the villain laughable. This would be one to avoid.