P2 (2007)

DVD Cover (Universal)
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Overall Rating 58%
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The story centers on a corporate climber who gets stuck working late on Christmas Eve and finds herself the target of an unhinged security guard. With no help in sight, the woman must overcome physical and psychological challenges to survive. --IMDb
Review by bluemeanie
Added: November 12, 2007
Co-written and produced by Alexandre Aja, "P2" is directed by Franck Kalfoun, one of the stars of the film "Haute Tension", which Aja directed. Most of you have probably never heard of the film, even though it received a wide release this past weekend. "P2" was backed by a production company known as Summit Entertainment, the same company that handled films like "Babel" and this year's "Michael Clayton". It's a company that is slowly and surely becoming something of a recognizable force in Hollywood, especially if "Michael Clayton" does well come Oscar time. Most of you might also be put off by the lack of distinguishable actors in the film. "P2" features two leads who lack clear name recognition, even though one of them was in one of the most beloved dramas of the 1990's. "P2" is a curious film. It's a thriller and a borderline horror film and it keeps the suspense high and the action pretty consistent. It's one of the better made films of its kind that I have seen in a long time, and it keeps from drifting over into torture porn territory, even though its storyline is pretty consistent with a film in that genre. "P2" was surprising. I only went to see it because Roger Ebert didn't bash it to pieces. It was a trip I absolutely do not regret.

The film stars Rachel Nichols as Angela Bridges, a businesswoman who is stuck in her office late on Christmas Eve, even though she is supposed to be driving to spend the holiday with her family. Early on, we learn that one of her co-workers made an inappropriate pass at her during their office Christmas party, and we learn that she is friends with the security guard in the building - the one who works in the lobby. When she tries to leave, her car won't start. She taps on the door of the parking attendant, a man named Thomas (Wes Bentley), who tries to re-charge the battery, but just can't seem to help. Before she leaves, he offers to share his Christmas dinner with her. This is when we first start to realize that something is off. Before long, Thomas has knocked her out, tied her to a chair in his office, and dresses up like Santa Claus to put her in the holiday spirit. You see, Thomas doesn't seem to be 'all there' in the accepted sense of the term. The rest of the film is a cat and mouse game between Angela and Thomas, as she tries to escape and he tries to 'help her' the only way he seems to know how. Almost all of the action takes place in the parking garage, which is where the title of the film comes from; some times, however, the action switches to the building adjacent to the garage. "P2" is the definition of a claustrophobic thriller.

There is a lot to admire about this film. For starters, the music. Christmas music has always been creepy to me and "P2" uses it to fine affect, especially at the very beginning of the film. Secondly, the art direction and production design. I know what you're thinking - it's a parking garage. I know, but what they do is brilliant. No film has enabled an audience to remember its title more. And, this really does look as real as a parking garage gets. Nothing extraordinary. Nothing too far fetched. It all seems real. Lastly, I primarily loved the interaction between Nichols and Bentley. One of the best scenes comes in the security office, where Angela has just told Thomas that she has a boyfriend and expects him to come looking for her any time now. What results is Thomas igniting a series of questions designs to trip her up with what he considers to be a lie. This is far too fine a scene to be in a film like this, very well written and very well crafted. There is also another scene, where Thomas asks Angela to call her family to let them know she can't make it. This scene is also very well acted and very well staged. There are several scenes like this in "P2". It's a film that seems far more polished and accessible that it should be. Yes, that is a compliment. As for the performances, Rachel Nichols and Wes Bentley do fine jobs, especially Bentley as a man who just wants someone to eat Christmas dinner with. Their performances help carry the entire film.

Now, for the bad stuff, and there is a little. There are a couple of scenes in the film that seem a little too corny for their own good. Though his performance as a whole is solid, Wes Bentley gives us his worst over acting during a scene where he is shouting at Angela not to use his name so much. It's a scene that culminates in a graphic and overly violent death scene that seems out of place in a film that has set itself up as more intellectual and more sophisticated than a "Hostel". I guess I did think the inconsistency worked with the tone and the balance of the mood. I would see this really good dialog driven scene, and then I would be hit with this overflow of blood and guts. I wanted more of the former and less of the latter. I also have a difficult time believing that they could flood the elevator and do all of this damage to the building and never have the police show up in more of a force that two officers responding to a 911 call. And she credits her working address as Park Avenue and mentions she is spending Christmas in New Jersey, so I can only assume she lives in New York City. This place looks as much like New York City as Savannah, Georgia. I never once got the feeling I was in the 'Big Apple'. That didn't work for me.

But, the good far outweighs the bad with this film. "P2" is one of those films that just came out from nowhere and blindsided me with how enjoyable it turned out to be. Part of me wonders whether it might have been better served to be released on Christmas. There is always one horror film released on the holiday and "P2" seems like it would have been a good fit. It might have given it a shot at making a little more dough than it did this past weekend. However, on a budget of around $8 million, you have to think it will end up doing all right in the long run, especially with whatever it does overseas and subsequent DVD sales. The film is going to be a success. What I think probably hurt the film is that a lot of people perceived it as just another torture film. The trailers certainly didn't go out of their way to convince audiences otherwise. Something like that can really hurt a film like "P2", and it did. In conclusion, "P2" was an enjoyable film that really seemed better than it probably should have been. You should check it out when you can.

Chad #1: Chad - added 04/13/2008, 12:37 PM
Very good movie, agreed with the above review. 8/10.
grain of sand #2: grain of sand - added 05/23/2008, 11:49 PM
The music and the first death are so great together, I'm glad I finally saw this 8/10
Tristan #3: Tristan - added 06/04/2008, 08:43 PM
Aside from a few spots of bad acting, and some really ridiculous plot holes and flaws, I enjoyed it. 7/10
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