P2 trembles in the shadow of Red Eye but it’s not without its virtues. A late shift at the office on Christmas Eve proves disastrous for Angela (Rachel Nichols), who—upon her intended departure via the basement parking garage—is confronted with multitudinous obstacles almost deliberately preventing her exit. Small surprise, then, that everything from her inexplicably derelict vehicle to the locked parking gates prove to be the work of a lunatic security guard named Thomas (Wes Bentley), whose lonely lifestyle and generally deprived experience with the opposite sex has driven him to extreme measures in an effort to capture Angela’s attention, both figuratively and literally. After being knocked out with absinthe and chained to a table for a makeshift holiday dinner with her captor, Angela attempts to escape but not before Thomas continues his misguided, demented efforts to prove his affection for her. P2—named after the parking garage level Angela initially finds herself trapped on—makes generally good use of its settings for mood and atmosphere (particularly when the voyeuristic Thomas stalks Angela via his grainy surveillance camera monitors) and, as far as recent women-in-peril films go, is surprisingly intelligent in its handling of its various cat-and-mouse set pieces. The initially creepy opening, set to the holiday tune “Santa Baby,” disappointingly resorts to cheap shock tactics in what is revealed to be a flash-forward to a sequence later in the film, in effect deflating the climax’s mounting tension. Nevertheless, P2‘s efficiency gives it a nasty, tongue-in-cheek energy in the final act, during which the tables are repeatedly turned on predator and prey and the whole smorgasbord embraces the guileless antics of a B movie romp (topped off by the end credits’ hilarious holiday photo montage). The film only just rises above its rather one-dimensional explorations of sexual violence, but see it if only for Bentley’s near-great performance, which lends unprecedented nuance and conviction to a role that echoes Michael Beihn’s classic villain from The Fan. Best moment (spoiler herein): an increasingly exasperated Thomas—having found his guard dog dead, killed by Angela after he set it loose on her—shouts in hilarious agony, “How could you kill a defenseless animal?!”
- Summit Entertainment
- 98 min
- Franck Khalfoun
- Alexandre Aja, Franck Khalfoun, Grégory Levasseur
- Rachel Nichols, Wes Bentley, Grace Lynn Kung, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Simon Reynolds
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