CMS (CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS)
Another entirely functional but thoroughly unremarkable suspense thriller that echoes stuff we've seen before, adding very little new to the mix but putting it all together well enough. It spends a lot of time laboriously manoeuvring its small cast in position, but then it sadly doesn't give them very much to do once they're set up. Which is a pity.
It's coming up to Christmas and three employees of Starkweather Finance (handy marketing hint: don't give your investment company the same name as a notorious serial murderer; it sends completely the wrong message) leave the party and end up at a deserted shopping mall car park so one of them can get some cash from the ATM to buy pizzas on the way home. For reasons of plot contrivance they all end up in the cash machine booth but then they notice a mysterious hooded figure watching them from outside: scared, they decide to wait it out but then he sabotages their car, while attempting to break into the booth from behind. Who is he? What does he want? Meanwhile the three bicker, argue, huddle for warmth (the sign on the mall says it's -6 Fahrenheit, which equates to -21 Celsius and thus strikes me as way too low) and try and think of ways to escape....
So it's a bit like Phone Booth, it's a bit like Frozen, and the lack of rationale or motivation for the unknown maniac doesn't work. (The tagline on the DVD box, "Your Money Or Your Life", bears no relation to the film whatsoever.) You can get away with a faceless, unknowable evil in a horror movie (the whole point of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is that Leatherface and the family are entirely beyond reason), but a thriller needs more. One assumes his goal is robbery of the cash machines and these bozos have just interrupted him, but he doesn't appear to have come prepared. Furthermore, all the night's terrors could have been avoided if they hadn't parked a hundred yards away from the ATM booth - why didn't they stop right outside the door? Further unconvincing plot contrivances include none of them having a mobile on them AND that the car doors don't lock properly, and none of these factors are within the killer's control.
Still, it more or less gets by: it's only 80 minutes long (not counting the 10 minutes end crawl which breaks off a couple of times for a montage of the maniac's collection of blueprints, sketches, photos, Googlemaps printouts and diagrams for what is presumably his next target) so it's fairly painless and doesn't drag too much. Miles from essential viewing, but still a fair distance from being terrible.
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