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P2 - DVD
I have always liked to trudge through low budget movies because sometimes you find a gem. More often than not you end up turning off half way through but sometimes you find a little movie that gains you interest and is enough to warrant an hour and a half of your attention.
P2 is one of those movies. It is certainly not a gem but neither is it pure B-movie dross.
The reason for this is that the two main actors know what they are doing and manage to pull it off. The dynamic between then is believable but saying that you don't get as involved with the psychopath in the movie as much as you would like to. The direction isn't too bad either given the small budget of the movie, which was eight million dollars.
Angela (Rachel Nichols) is working late on Christmas Eve. Her workload is getting her down but her drive to get to the top of the corporate ladder is keeping her going. However, she would like to get away to spend Christmas with her family at her sisters. She has rented a Santa Suit to surprise her sister's kids with on Christmas Eve night and assures her sister that she will not be late. She chats with the likeable security guard from her building as they catch an elevator together. They wish each other a good holiday period as Angela steps out onto parking level two or 'P2' of the buildings parking area. She turns the ignition key in her car and it doesn't start. Making her way back up to the elevator she finds the door to the elevator foyer is locked. Cursing, she makes her way to the parking lot security office and speaks to the security guard, Thomas (Wes Bentley) and asks if he can open the door to the foyer for her. He says he will but offers to charge her battery for her with his charger. This doesn't work and he leads her to the foyer and opens the door for her. Angela rings for a taxi and waits in the foyer of the main building. The taxi pulls up and the driver rings her as she has nodded off while waiting. She waves to the driver and is dumbfounded when she finds the main doors locked. She asks the taxi driver to wait and makes her way back down in the elevator. On her way to the office she hears the taxi beep his horn and sees him drive away through the locked metal mesh gates of the parking lot. A hand grabs her from behind and a handkerchief covers her mouth and she passes out. She wakes up in a dress, chained to a chair and sitting at a dinner table with Christmas decorations and all the trimmings. What follows is a fight for her life as Angela escapes the impromptu dinner date and is pursued by a psychopath while trapped in the dark and December cold parking lot.
I have seen a few reviews on this movie across the internet and although most of them are a fair representation of it I feel that a lot of people have missed the point. They describe the psychopath as too likeable at first and then complain when he unrealistically turns into a madman. For me that is what he is all about and that is exactly the sort of impression a psychopath would make. At first he would be likeable and eager to please; if a little weird and then he would become frustrated when he could've achieve his goal of Angela liking him. He would eventually become hateful and driven by his desire to make her see what he wanted.
It is not a new concept by any means and this kind of movie are a dime a dozen to coin an American phrase, seeing as I am reviewing an American movie. However, I like the fact that it is a simple movie that requires no effort to watch. You can just kick back and be entertained and for a movie of this type it is indeed rather entertaining. It won't break any box office records and indeed only made back half of its budget at the cinema but I think it deserves to break even with video sales as it is one of those movies to sit on a Saturday night with and indulge in a bit of fun.
Rachel Nichols plays the part of Angela really well and I liked her pretty much from the beginning. It is a bit of a cheap shot from the director to have her masquerading around in a very low cut dress for most of the movie and if there was an award for cleavage of the year in film, then I think Rachel would've won it hands down. That aside, she does play a good part. Another complaint in many reviews is that she goes towards danger when she should run or that she makes wrong decisions. Again the point has been missed as that is the main mind set of this kind of movie. The part is written for her to make stupid decisions and to do things we wouldn't normally do. If she just ran away, then we wouldn't be left with much of a movie now would we? Many of you will know Rachel Nichols from TV series such as 'Criminal Minds' and 'Continuum'. She has also starred as Gaila in 'Star Trek' and has recently starred in such movies as 'Conan' and 'Alex cross'. I like her as an actress and she reminds me a little of Bridgett Fonda. She also has a bit of a younger Jodie Foster in her too.
Wes Bentley needs no introduction and plays the part of the psychopath with zeal and determination. I'm sure Mr Bentley wouldn't mind me saying that he is well suited to this type of role and it is indeed meant as a compliment. He is most known for and first came to prominence in his role in 'American Beauty', alongside Thora Birch and Kevin Spacey. He has also recently starred in the major movie production of 'The Hunger Games'. I like this actor a lot and think he is underrated. He has that deep, dark look about him that makes him look like he is somewhere else, a little like Jake Gyllenhaal. It is the perfect look to have if you're going to play a psychopath and he pulls it off in this movie. Wes comes out with some funny lines in the movie, particularly after murdering someone and whispering 'Way to ruin Christmas asshole'.
It is a thriller movie first and foremost but there are a few sickening scenes in it that could give it a run in the horror genre. There is a scene to look out for with a man tied to a chair and a car; well gruesome and one of the old favourites is always a pen and an eye.
The director of the movie is Franck Kalhoun and he didn't do a bad job on this his first real, all out movie, which was released to cinema in 2007. The DVD followed in 2008. The movie was well shot on its small budget and was primarily filmed in a real parking lot in Toronto, Canada. Kalhoun has since directed 'Wrong Turn at Tahoe', starring Cuba Gooding Jnr and 'Maniac' to be released around Christmas this year, starring Elijah wood. This movie is gaining some hype amongst movie fans as it is shot from Elijah's character's perspective and he plays his reflection with a body double to play the opposite hands, which all sounds rather intriguing.
Like I have said, it is not a brilliant movie that will have you raving and recommending it to all your friends but it is a likeable movie and one that I found entertaining. I had no illusions about what to expect as I knew it was small budget but it surprised me in actually being a lot better than I thought it would be. You may like it and you may not, depending on your bag but it is certainly worth a go, especially if you're a fan of a good old thriller or low budget movies that makes no pretense about their content.
The DVD is available on the cheap from Amazon, eBay and other online DVD stockists. The standard version is the only version available in UK with trailer and some minor extras. The US region 1 version is available as a Widescreen edition.
Director: Franck Khalfoun
Writers: Alexandre Aja, Grégory Levasseur
It's Christmas Eve in New York and workaholic Angela is working late. As usual her car is the last in the building in the multi storey - but tonight her car won't start. She finds the car park security guard Thomas who helps her try to start the car. Pretty soon we find that Thomas is not all he seems and Angela finds herself trapped in a cat and mouse game with a psychopath.
This might just be me but if there is one thing I really hate it is being one of the last to leave a multi storey car park. Every noise seems amplified, danger seems to lurk around every pillar and I find myself walking hurriedly or even sometime running to the safety of my car. The thought of being trapped inside absolutely horrifies me. This is the reason why I will avoid the Multi Story whenever possible. This film plays with all of these fears.
I thought this was a great little horror film. Khalfoun successfully builds up the tension throughout and throws the viewer a few scares along the way. The story although not entirely original has enough about it to keep you gripped - although the beginning seems a little slow you will soon be drawn into Angelas plight.
Wholly shot in the car park the setting of the multi storey is used to great effect. We've all been there and we all know how lonely and desolate those places can be, is there ever more relief then emerging from their dark shadows into the real world? It seems like Angela is trapped in a rat run of which there is no escaping. There were some bloody scenes which will certainly please all you gore lovers but the real horror is in the psychological game as it plays out. There are a few plot holes and you will need to suspend you disbelief in parts but on the whole the story is really good. The music is also brilliant as Christmas songs which are usually happy and jolly take on a sinister tone when played through the scratch car park tannoy system.
The flim contains a minuscule cast, there are basically only 2 characters for about 95% of the film but they are good characters played out brilliantly by Wes Bently and Rachel Nichols. Bently is excellent as Thomas playing creepy to the max. However as deranged as Tomas is there are points where you cannot help but feel sympathy for him. I thought the character of Angela was brilliant - she is certainly not a dumb horror flick girl and makes some very clever moves in her attempts to escape. It was refreshing to see someone trapped in a situation where you aren't constantly going for gods sake why doesn't she just do this or that.
This film is not going to win any awards but if you are after an entertaining thriller this is certainly worth a watch.
note: also appears on my film review website, ShaunMunro.co.uk!
P2 is the latest entry into the canon of Christmas-time horror films, seemingly kick-started by 2006's hilariously bad Black Christmas. P2 is by no means a terrible film, but seems to be a case of director Franck Khalfoun attempting to instil a sense of complexity and worth into his project, when, for all means and purposes, it really isn't necessary, especially when it seems this awkward and confused.
The film's premise harks back as far as horror films go - our protagonist, Angela (Rachel Nichols), is a happy-go-lucky, hard-working businesswoman, and as Khalfoun goes through the motions of establishing her as a fairly affable human being, I have to ask - would it kill him to just cut to the chase (no pun intended)? Angela essentially becomes locked inside a parking garage on Christmas Eve, entirely separated from humanity, as a sadistic stalker toys with her (Wes Bentley).
P2 has its effective moments - as Angela saunters around the parking garage in her initial moments of despair, the garage becomes shrouded in darkness, and a very authentic sense of dread pervades through this. What I admired most about the opening portion of the film was the decision not to constantly shroud Bentley's character in darkness, instead presenting him to us from the outset, and very quickly establishing him as a psychopath, without letting us know quite what his intentions are.
We learn little of the antagonist's past, but we do learn that he is not a cut and dry, garden variety lunatic - there is a dichotomy about this man, in that he accommodates the captive heroine, tending to her illnesses (although he did cause them through his use of chloroform). For a decent portion of P2, we are left unsure as to whether Tom is simply a lonely, confused man - we never learn of any parental issues or jilting ex-girlfriends, and whilst P2 is at times a cheesy film, this removes a layer in that respect.
Where P2 begins to irk is as Angela and her captor engage in their first discourse, and we realise that Tom is too intelligent to the point of implausibility - his acts begin to show an air of deliberation, in that he knows all about Angela and her family. One would feel far more terrified of this character had he chosen his victim at random, yet the depth of planning Tom exhibits verges on unrealistic to the point of annoyance.
What the film does right in regard to Bentley's character is to confront him as an individual rather than hide him from us at every instance - often he encounters Angela in well-lit rooms, and whilst he traverses the darkness later on, it doesn't feel like a cheap thrill for the most part.
Regrettably, the film's second half takes a distinct turn for the worse, even employing what appears to be a shameless pilfering of Saw-esque themes, as Tom unveils a few surprises locked away within the garage, such as an individual who recently violated Angela, and offers her the choice to exact her pound of flesh from him.
Up until this point, P2 is surprisingly restrained with its blood and guts, not showering the screen with intestines and crushed skulls until over the half-way mark, and even then, the gore is fairly infrequent, although rather graphic when it does occur. With this comes another problem - the violence is ridiculously over-the-top, and not in a fun Kill Bill-esque fashion, either. This film intends to be serious, yet when a man's insides quite literally fall out of him and blood splats onto car windshields with the velocity of a bullet train, one must ask where the lines between horror and parody converge.
Despite the veritable overkills, Bentley's stalking rarely, if ever appears unrealistic - we see coverage of him on security cameras getting from A to B, and he never emerges out of nowhere - all of it is reasoned and moderately practical.
One inevitably has to ask how long a film set only in a parking garage can last, and moreover, how long it can maintain consistent. It becomes clear in the film's second half that this isn't very long, as our protagonist, the buxom Nichols, plods around various lifts and offices, soaking wet and frolicking in a rather revealing nightdress.
Gorehounds will be disappointed by P2's infrequent gore, and similarly, anyone searching for an intelligent plot should look elsewhere. After a fairly dull introduction, P2 begins to show a degree of promise, particular with Wes Bentley's effectively chilling performance, yet it is mired by an inconsistent, and frankly, rather boring second half. This fatal game of cat-and-mouse grasps at straws tightly, and by the hour mark, even those none too fond of gratuitous violence may be calling for blood, if only to liven up this plodding, tiresome picture.
For a film that has attempted to sidestep the endless number of clichés inundating the majority of modern Hollywood horror, the manner in which the film ends is devastatingly unoriginal, with our protagonist becoming fed up of running and instead metamorphosing into a certifiable badass, turning the tables on her aggressor. It's none too satisfying, and in fact, quite preposterous.
P2 distinguishes itself from other horror films very slightly - it reveals the threat to us from the outset, and isn't mired by a wealth of terrible acting. Nichols' performance is by no means impressive, but she isn't terrible, and Wes Bentley, for the most part (other than when he starts screaming incomprehensibly, which almost inspires laughter) is a convincing psychopath. Had P2 endured a rewrite in its third act, then this would be an above-average horror thriller, instead of a marginally mediocre one.
P2 is a film starring Wes Bentley (better known to me as Ricky in American Beauty) as Tom, a parking attendant and Rachel Nichols as a businesswoman in an office building somewhere in Toronto, the film takes place entirely in the parking lot, p2 being one of the 4 levels of the parking lot and the same level that Angela is captured by the parking attendant...
The film is fully shot within the parking lot, bar the opening few minutes inside the office building, this I think give the film a certain edge and a very good sense of not being able to get away, all gates are shut, locked or chained, there is no exit for Angela who has been chained to the table and dressed up for a nice christmas dinner with Thomas.
The story follows on from this moment as Angela tries to find means of escape, perhaps that won't be as easy as first thought though (although maybe I was the only one that thought she could just smash through the office building windows and explain later that she was being kept hostage by a psycopath?)
The actors are very good in this film, in fact Wes Bentley on the 2 films I have now seen him in has been brilliant in both and make me wonder why he hasn't been in much more, he plays the innocent creepy guy extremley well in both this and American Beauty, although in this he turns a little for the worse despite his innocence of the first half an hour or so. The fact he's being nice to Angela throughout the ordeal is creepy and sadistic in itself.
I did like the plot, I do like films that are a little different and I like very much psycholoical horror/thrillers which I guess this kind of is, more so a horror/thriller which is also a great like of mine, so to combine the 2 worked well for someone like me, there was a few genuine scary bits and quite a few suspense and tense moments with alot of creepiness thrown into the mix.
Obvious if every film was shot in the same location (I also love Phonebooth) it would get a little boring, but every now and then it works very well, P2 is a fairly unknown film as far as I am aware but it's easily one of the best thriller/horrors in the past few years, the fact there's little or no special effects adds something to this film, special effects in horrors for me are a no no, it makes everything less scary, this film having none of that, no means of escape and a real life location/situation in a dark parking lot adds to the tension, scaryness and creepiness which makes, for me, this a very good, albeit not 5* worthy, film.
Director: Franck Khalfoun
Story: Alexandre Aja & Grégory Levasseur
Genre: Horror - Thriller
Released: 29th August, 2008 (DVD)
Wes Bentley (Thomas)
Rachel Nichols (Angela)
Simon Reynolds (Mr. Harper)
Philip Akin (Karl)
Angela, a successful lawyer who spends more time working than she does 'living', is trying to make it to her sister's house in time for Christmas - she's picked up the Santa Claus suit, has somehow managed to find the time to purchase gifts for her sister's children, and now all she needs is to arrive on time.
Unfortunately for her, her car won't start, and the security guard in charge of the parking area has decided that he isn't spending Christmas alone.
'P2' if not an incredibly good movie, is passably entertaining. The format has been done... over and over... however, it possesses a certain amount of originality that makes it, at times, almost riveting.
The only major flaw to be encountered, as in all 'B' slasher-type movies, is that the main character has a tendency to be downright stupid. Instead of running from danger, she often runs towards it, and when logic dictates that she should be doing something in particular, she does the exact opposite - frustrating, however, she does have her 'smart' moments which are, indubitably, satisfying.
Why is it that along with the regular 'family' Christmas movies, 'B' slashers have found their niche in the Christmas viewing market? At what point did 'A Christmas Carol' give way to the blood & guts Christmas horror movie? Was it a necessity? Do we need Christmas slashers? I can't even imagine watching this type of movie during the festive season - which is why I didn't pay to see it when it came out in the cinema. As a rental, it's good enough... needless to say that for collectors of the genre, 'P2' is more a thriller than a horror. The 'fear' relies heavily on the 'dramatic' aspect of the movie, and not on the special-effects.
Thomas, the unhinged-yet-sweet security guy, is madly in love with Angela... in fact, he's so in love with her that he can't imagine that she won't eventually love him back. Therefore, having made arrangements for a nice Christmas meal, festive music and a bit of wine, all that's left is for Thomas to make certain that Angela will attend...
The movie is satisfyingly dramatic, it possesses a good tense 'edge' to it, but I wouldn't actually call it a horror. Thomas isn't your regular serial killer or maniac, he's somewhat sweet and timid, and the viewer senses that he isn't actually going to hurt Angela, therefore there isn't anything actually frightening about this movie. Thomas eventually becomes obnoxious, much like a stalker, and his lunacy turns into madness, but still the viewer doesn't get this feeling that the main character is in 'real' danger.
Had the writers intended to create a 'real' horror, they would have given Thomas 'evil' intent - because he lacked any evil intent towards Angela, this movie has been placed in the wrong genre. It isn't a 'real' slasher movie, nor is it a horror. 'P2' isn't terrifying, it isn't even mildly frightening... so what is it? A psychological thriller, nothing more, nothing less.
The setting can't be simpler than a parking lot, the actors aren't headliners, therefore what we have is a low-budget 'B' movie parading as a blockbuster. The storyline isn't original, the characters follow the horror 'format' (selective stupidity), the atmosphere is heavy, but that's as horrific as it goes. What keeps this movie from being a flop is the fact that it contains a good portion of suspense and the tension is, at some points, almost palpable. Personally, I prefer movies with more tension than gore... if you prefer the gore, then this one isn't for you. If you like a scary movie, this one isn't for you, and if special-effects are your thing... then this one definitely isn't for you.
'P2' is a psychological thriller, the atmosphere is thick and heavy, the acting is very good with 'believable' characters, and the storyline is interesting. This is a great Saturday night movie rental when you just can't be bothered to go out.
It's Christmas Eve and, as usual, Angela is the last to leave the office. Despite the fact that her family is waiting for her to join them for Christmas supper, she is unable to tear herself away until very late, when the security guard is patrolling the office floors. Escorted down to parking level P2, she bids the guard goodnight and makes her way, wearily, to her car to take the short trip to her waiting family.
But what was supposed to be the end of a long day becomes the beginning of Angela's worst nightmare. Somebody is watching her every move and he has no intention of sharing her, this Christmas night.....
As French director Aleandre Aja's popularity has soared (thanks, largely, to his cult horror mind-f*ck Switchblade Romance), it would seem that Aja has not forgotten those who helped him make it. Directed by Franck Khalfoun, who had starred in Switchblade, P2 is also co-written by Aja himself, enabling the studio to lure us in with the ubiquitous "from the producers of Switchblade Romance" tagline. Let's be clear, P2 is no Switchblade, but if you're prepared to put to one side the inadequacies of the genre it's an entertaining enough slice of stalk and slash.
Aja clearly believed that by setting an entire film in a car park was a work of genius, when in fact, he has simply selected another "murder environment" that simply brings with it a different range of problems for our hapless victim. It's cold, it's dark and it's harsh, so it's not a particularly good place to find yourself alone at night with a psychopath. But that's exactly what happens to Angela. The trouble is that neither the director or the writer seems truly capable of utilising the environment in an innovative way and in fact, it's rather contrived. The car park has to be in the basement because otherwise there would a) be a mobile phone signal and b) you might be able to attract someone's attention. As such, Angela effectively staggers around lurching from one disaster to another and, for the first two-thirds of the film at least, generally gets right on your nerves. Worse still is the fact that the environment just doesn't ring true. Does the building have no fire exits or a fire alarm to be activated with a well-placed heel? The building's security systems seem conveniently weighted against the lead and this means that, in turn, the peril remains firmly in the fictional camp because the audience simply doesn't accept it.
In fairness, the pace of the narrative offsets some of the irritation, at least. Angela's introduction to the resident loony is, initially, friendly and innocent and whilst everybody at home might be thinking "cuckoo" she acts as one might in these circumstances. From there on, Kkalfoun and Aja gradually crank up the tension as Angela realises that who she thought might at first be a slightly clingy, but harmless worker is in fact a deranged killer called Tom. Her character, therefore, has to gradually adapt to this new crisis and the audience shares her journey.
Wes Bentley's Tom probably makes the film. It's not a particularly complex role, but demands severe changes in facial expression, body language and tone that Bentley grasps entirely. Whilst Tom is often charming (and quite handsome) the audience also struggles with this slightly eccentric character and initially finds it rather difficult to imagine that he poses any real threat until, that is, a rather significant shift in the narrative, when it becomes apparent that Aja can't make a film without at least one gooey bit. Rachel Nichols' Angela is also reasonably effective. As far as essential ingredients for a peril victim go she's pretty much got them all (she's beautiful, has hidden depths and very large breasts) and certainly convinces us that she's fighting for her life.
Sadly, one gooey bit aside, the narrative is often startlingly predictable and chock full of the genre clichés that you might expect somebody like Aja to avoid. The police are as useful as ever (does 911 REALLY have a queuing system for emergency calls?) Mobile phones are as pointless as ever and locks are as difficult as ever to pick until suddenly our hero seems able to disarm them in a flick of a wrist.
All of this aside, however, it's worth remembering that "peril" films are about just that; somebody in grave danger with all odds weighted against them, the entertainment to be derived from rooting for the victim. At this, at least, P2 is extremely effective. It romps along for the best part of 90 minutes, never really settling to draw breath and considering that most of the screen time is absorbed by two characters, in one dingy car park, it's surprisingly exciting. Crucially, knowledge of Aja's previous output also means that a happy ending is never assured and Aja's "anything goes" approach to story telling keeps you guessing.
P2's undoing is the fact that the audience simply doesn't respond to the danger into which Angela is thrust. It's simply too much of a stretch to accept the way the story plays out. But, the ability to suspend belief almost certainly guarantees the ability to appreciate this movie on a rather more superficial level and, in this way, it's certainly entertaining, in a gruesome kind of way.