Tuesday, May 7, 2013

P2 (2007)

**This review contains spoilers**

On Christmas Eve, Angela Bridges (Rachel Nichols) works late into the night for her law firm in an attempt to tie up some loose ends before the holidays. The first through the door, and the last to leave, Angela is a dedicated worker, but Angela makes a promise to her family: Angela must spend the holidays with her mother, sister, and niece without any interruptions from work. Angela reluctantly agrees, and she decides to surprise her niece with a Santa suit.

In the empty office building after hours, Angela hauls all of her gifts and the Santa suit to her car. But when Angela reaches parking level two, her car won’t start. Angela searches for help, and she eventually finds the security guard, Thomas (Wes Bentley) and his Rottweiler, Rocky. After a failed jump, Angela calls for a cab, but when the cab arrives, Angela can’t make it outside, because Thomas locked every exit in the building. Eventually, the cab leaves, and Angela is stranded inside. Thomas shuts off the lights in the parking garage, and as Angela tries to call for help in the darkness, Thomas sneaks up from behind, and suffocates Angela with a rag dampened in chloroform.

Angela eventually awakens in Thomas’ office, chained to a chair, with her clothes gone, and a new white dress courtesy of Thomas. Thomas prepared a Christmas Eve dinner, and he won’t eat it alone. Angela begs Thomas for her release, but instead, Thomas takes Angela into the parking garage to teach her co-worker, Jim (Simon Reynolds) a lesson. Jim is tied to a chair, and Thomas urges Angela to take his flashlight so she can teach Jim a lesson, after a drunken Jim tried to force himself on Angela in the elevator. Angela refuses, angering Thomas, and Angela is forced to witness the first glimpse of Thomas’ dark side, as he brutally murders Jim. With no help or connections to the outside world, Angela must escape Thomas and Rocky before it’s too late.

I’m not a big Rachel Nichols fan, but she’s believable as the damsel in distress. Wes Bentley delivers the best performance in this film. He’s genuinely creepy, as the obsessive lunatic, who will do anything to impress Angela. But when Angela finally gains the upper hand at the end, Bentley turns into this sniveling and pathetic man during his final moments. He’s such an asshole throughout the movie, but I almost wanted to feel sorry him before Angela delivered the final blow.

Acting wise, you’ll see a few glimpses of some other people, but Angela and Thomas receive 95% of the screen time, and Jim is the only character, who makes an appearance twice (well, there’s another security guard, but he’s dead during his second and third appearances). P2 revolves around the deadly game of cat-and-mouse between Angela and Thomas, as Angela fights to get help, and find a way out of the office building. I really enjoyed the duel and mind games between Angela and Thomas, and Bentley’s performance as the sadistic creep is the driving force behind Angela and Thomas’ ongoing feud. Thomas is such a dick, I rooted for Angela’s survival, and I wanted her to make it to the end alive.

P2 features some nasty gore, but it’s not too much. Two scenes stand out amongst the rest: Thomas killing Jim, and Angela killing Rocky.  First, Thomas drives his car into Jim, smashing him against a wall, while Jim is still tied to the chair. After crushing him a few times, you can clearly see Jim’s guts hanging out, and on the final push, Jim explodes into a gush of blood and chunks of flesh. Angela uses a tire iron to kill Rocky after Rocky corners her in a car. It’s pretty gruesome, because Angela keeps whacking and twisting the tire iron into and over Rocky’s head until he dies.

I actually had a good time with P2, but I was annoyed every now and then. The story is SO predictable, and you can see the ending coming from a mile away. And Thomas’ death is kind of corny. After Angela takes out one of his eyes, and handcuffs him to the door of a car, Thomas pleads for mercy, as Angela walks away. Angry and frustrated, Thomas calls Angela a “cunt.” She stops, and uses a taser to ignite a trail of leaking gasoline leading to Thomas. Thomas catches fire, and the car explodes shortly after, killing him.

Yeah, I get it. Thomas is supposed to suffer for kidnapping and torturing Angela, and his gruesome demise is supposed to be the feel good triumphant moment of vengeance for Angela. But using a vulgar slur to insult the female protagonist before a moment of triumph is too ordinary and counter-productive. I’ve seen this happen in other horror and non-horror films, and to use a more similar comparison off the top of my head, Angela’s decision to brutally murder Thomas reminds me of the ending in Hostel II. One of the torturers calls the remaining female survivor (can’t remember the names, because I haven’t watched Hostel II in a few years) a cunt. She responds by cutting off his genitals, and she feeds them to a dog.

Anyway, P2 is a solid horror/thriller. Yes, the story is formulaic, and you’ll see the ending coming from a mile away. But P2 features a nice set of spooky and eerie atmospherics, and sporadic scenes of nail biting suspense, as Angela fights to escape. It’s  nothing great, but P2 surprised the hell out of me, because I had very low expectations for this one.

Final Rating: 6/10

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