Release Date: November 9th, 2007 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Franck Khalfoun Actors: Rachel Nichols, Wes Bentley, Simon Reynolds, Stephanie Moore, Miranda Edwards
he ambiguously titled “P2” attempts to do for parking garages what “Psycho” did for showers. And though Hitchcock certainly didn’t direct this one, Franck Khalfoun’s debut Hollywood feature manages to provide plenty of high tension (in part thanks to the involvement of writer/producer Alexandre Aja, pun intended) and gory scares. Well-paced and chillingly violent, there’s nothing like a good Christmas thriller in November.
Workaholic Angela Bridges (Rachel Nichols) gets stuck at the office late on Christmas Eve. Her night goes from bad to worse to horrifying when she realizes that the awkward parking lot security guard, Thomas (Wes Bentley), has taken her hostage in the underground garage with a night of cat-and-mouse torment and devious psychological tortures planned. With no help in sight, Angela must outsmart – and survive – his mind games while attempting to escape the labyrinthine prison of parking level P2 (as well as P3 and P4).
Setting itself apart from the countless thrillers sporting faceless and personality-lacking villains, “P2” introduces audiences to an inventively sadistic psychopath. Played with delusional finesse by Wes Bentley, the maniacal antagonist provides an equal amount of terror and comedy with his disorienting comments and murderous tendencies. Recalling killers from Norman Bates to Stuntman Mike, the deranged kidnapper never seems aware of just how unbalanced he is, offering up a heavy irony with his bloodshed. Thomas has a way with extreme candidness, bringing out the contrariness that he doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong, therefore preventing him from comprehending why his victims retaliate. The contrast of his saying grace at dinner, or earnestly attempting to convince Angela that he’s there to help, adds to his comically twisted design.
Rachel Nichols also lends herself to a seldom seen, horror movie damsel-in-distress – one who falls into several clichéd circumstances without getting out in overly predictable ways. She displays a healthy mix of panic and bravery, commendably shying away from turning into the whining mess often witnessed in horror heroines, while also boasting enough courage to be moderately – and therefore believably – resourceful. Intermittently helpless and aggressive, Angela keeps the suspense sincere, while also managing to fill her low-cut, figure-hugging white dress more than adequately.
While some of the events could be construed as predictable, the opening title sequence perfectly illustrates the stupefying carnage and apprehension that the rest of the movie is aiming to spontaneously reveal. With serene Christmas music being abruptly halted by the screeching of metal, viewers are promised no deceptions as to what road the film will soon traverse. Some of the elements prove to be rather unfathomable for the average protagonist, especially when Angela is a bit too calm after her initial kidnapping, or when she must fight off an enraged dog, or later when she takes the aggressor role with a fire ax – but “P2” does know how to handle suspenseful choreography.
Since the entire film takes place in one building, after most everyone has left, the body count is considerably small – but the violence to those few is remarkably gratuitous. With its considerably creepy setting, plenty of “jump” scares, and nail-biting (or here, nail-breaking) chills, “P2” is crafted to appeal to those who like their thrill rides covered with anxiety and blood. Even with the occasional unlikely action or moment for senseless savagery, the entertainment value is consistent all the way through, making this a decent fright flick for viewers who can hold off thinking about it too much afterwards (for the sake of ignoring plot holes).
– The Massie Twins