Someone -- either screenwriters Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur or director Franck Khalfoun
-- is very, very proud of the name of their new movie. At every possible opportunity, they make a point to linger on the title when it appears on screen. It's like product placement for a movie within the movie itself. Even more inexplicable, the name is... P2. Because it strikes such fear in the heart?
It's unfortunately not the only baffling part: Who decided that a horrorfest set in an underground parking garage needed to be made, and what on earth possessed Wes Bentley to decide he needed to be in it? The list of questions is longer than the movie, so it's best to start at the beginning. Article continues below
On Christmas Eve, chronic workaholic and all around limp blanket Angela (Rachel Nichols
) is late leaving her office for family obligations, and a series of misfortunes leave Angela stranded and heading straight to the door of Thomas (Bentley
), the quietly weird parking lot security guy. Turns out, though, that this is just what Thomas has been waiting for, and he seizes the opportunity to take Angela captive and keep her with him forever and ever.
The good news is that this is not a horror film in the Saw
vein of "let's see how many fantastically creative ways we can conspire to inflict very graphic pain;" the bad news is that P2 is neither scary nor particularly suspenseful in any other way. The violence is painful and fulfills its blood quota, but P2 amounts to nothing so much as a protracted chase scene at very low speed. There are a few cheap jumps (all accompanied by the requisite stinger on the soundtrack, to point the audience in the right direction), and Thomas is very creative in his ways of keeping in control and foiling Angela's escape schemes. In the sense that P2 does not hinge on a villain with overly elaborate traps and machinations, but simply on the fact that New York City office buildings, with their lock-down methods of security, can keep folks in instead of out, it can almost be called a realistic horror movie. Almost, as long as you are willing to overlook the very patently obvious ways that Angela could escape her situation, or at least draw attention her plight.
But considering that the character of Angela is easily the film's most prominent flaw, it is actually not too difficult to overlook her cluelessness. It would be difficult to paint a heroine more clichéd or less interesting than Angela, the type of horror heroine who is dumber than a box of hair, but who at least has ginormous cleavage hanging out the entire time to keep her company as she whimpers and whines her way through the film. It's difficult to blame Nichols; she may be a fine actress, but Aja and Levasseur have certainly given her nothing to do but some plaintive mewling. It's a little more difficult to let Bentley off the hook -- he actually does a good job with the creepy/scary Thomas, who achieves impressive levels of self-delusion throughout, but it's hard to excuse whatever traumatic event that has led Bentley's career trajectory from American Beauty to... this.
P2 is not a good movie, which is not really a surprise; what's unfortunate is that it is not even good enough to meet the standards of the devotees of the Aja/Levasseur oeuvre (High Tension and the 2006 remake of The Hills Have Eyes are their past collaborations). Besides an imbecilic heroine who takes far too long to turn badass and actually stand up for herself, the violence in P2 is too sporadic and contrived to satisfy the gore junkies who would make up really all of the potential audience here. Take those folks away, and there really aren't any others who should bother to see this one.