Reviewed by Andrew Kasch
Starring Rachel Nichols, Wes Bentley
Directed by Franck Khalfoun
Distributed by Summit Entertainment
Hoping to do for parking garages what Jaws did for the ocean, P2 was one of those little films that popped in under the radar, received decent critical praise, and promptly died a horrible death at the box office. I wish I could say it deserved better (R-rated non-remakes are scarce these days), but I have to be honest: Despite all the love, there is little that separates this film from the rest of its ilk.
Rachel Nichols’ breasts star as Angela, a corporate girl working in an office building that looks suspiciously like the Nakatomi Plaza from Die Hard. It’s also Christmas Eve, and she’s the last one to leave work. Finding her car kaput, Angela quickly realizes she’s in for a long night when obsessed security guard Thomas (Bentley) abducts her and keeps her trapped in the building’s parking structure. Thomas “just wants a friend.” Angela wants the hell out. A lot of chasing and breast bouncing ensues.
P2 is well shot and directed with several great bloody moments, and to the average viewer it will come off as a perfectly serviceable slice o’ suspense. But if you’re the least bit horror-savvy, this is the same old song and dance: Girl gets stalked. Minor characters die. Girl gets tough and turns the tables. That’s about it. The filmmakers (the same team behind the stylish Hills Have Eyes remake) don’t even attempt to add anything new to the formula.
The biggest problem is Thomas, who takes home the award for “Least Frightening Villain Ever.” In fact, he is written as such a pathetic character, you’re more likely to feel sympathy for him than some generic corporate chick. It’s no secret that Bentley has been typecast in thankless creepy guy roles since American Beauty, and he’s so over-the-top here that he could almost be considered the comic relief (that is, if there was any tension to relieve). Most of his time is spent ranting like a lunatic while acting confused when his shackled love interest runs away screaming. Any halfway smart woman could easily outwit this love-stricken psycho simply by playing along, but Angela’s only reaction is to freak out and yell a lot. When Thomas is wounded and blood-soaked, he still tries to make nice with her, even pausing in between pursuits to do an Elvis musical number in his office. This is why P2‘s suspense level plummets: No matter how crazy things get, you know Angela is in no immediate danger.
On to the DVD.
Surprisingly, P2 doesn’t carry the overused “Unrated” stamp on the box, which is a welcome relief. For once we have a disc with the exact film you saw in theaters instead of those added two frames of extra gore to bullshit us into picking up “the version you couldn’t see.” There are also enough supplements on the disc to avoid the clichéd double-dip as well. Unfortunately, the extras are as standard as the film.
First there are several featurettes: “A New Level of Fear: The Making of P2,” “Designing Terror,” and the pretentiously-titled “Tension Nouveau – Presenting Franck Khaloun”. They’re typical studio fluff pieces where the filmmakers babble about the “deep psychology” (*snicker*) behind the characters and use empty phrases like “This is a thriller, not a horror movie.” There is also an audio commentary from director Frank Khalfoun and producers Alexandre Aja and Gregory Lavasseur in which the gang spends most of the track describing what you’re seeing on screen with the occasional self-congratulatory remark.
“Oh, this is such a great moment…”
“Wow, that jump scare is so effective…”
“Rachel is so good in this scene…”
Great. Wonderful. We’re glad you’re pleased with yourselves, guys. Why not talk up some anecdotes or something people might actually want to hear?
Overall, P2 is a competent but unremarkable film that stretches a thin concept even thinner. People who get their kicks from safe, formulaic suspense flicks will feel right at home, while horror aficionados will predict every moment outright. My suggestion is to just wander around a parking garage at 2am. You’ll see things far more memorable, and it costs less.
2 1/2 out of 5
2 out of 5
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