November 15, 2007

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P2 (R)
An office worker is terrorized by an unhinged security guard in P2, a horror movie that makes a good argument for not being the last person left in your office.

Angela (Rachel Nichols) is a hard worker, talking to clients and typing at her computer on Christmas Eve (with a really fabulous view out of her high-rise office window in New York City, so I can’t blame her for wanting to hang around). As the office starts to empty out, Angela talks to her sister about being “on her way” to her house in Jersey. She loads up the briefcases and, along with the friendly security guard, who is locking the floors to the office, heads down to her car in the building’s below-ground parking garage.

Grun grr grun plop … Car doesn’t start. Hey, there’s the helpful security office. Angela, who is parked on P2, heads up to P1, where she meets Thomas (Wes Bentley), a younger security guard who is a lot more friendly than the guy locking up the above-ground floors. Friendly in that “I hope he doesn’t have my home address” kind of way. He offers to give Angela’s car a jump and, when that doesn’t work, he unlocks the door to the elevator for her, after first making awkwardly attempting to ask her out.

Angela heads upstairs and calls a cab and waits in the lobby, only to discover that she’s actually locked in the building. She heads downstairs searching for a way and out, boom, out go the lights then, boom, out goes Angela as Thomas comes up behind her with a chloroform-soaked rag.

When Angela comes to, she’s wearing some white cocktail dress and shakily applied lipstick, and she’s chained by her ankle to a chair pulled up to a table where Thomas is preparing a holiday meal and making creepy psycho-killer conversation. Her initial attempts to talk him into letting her go are unsuccessful so she does what any girl does when she’s tired of her dinner companion, she stabs him with a fork.

Thus begins a steady patter of blood, escape, capture, blood, running, capture, escape, blood, etc. P2 quickly has the barefooted Angela running around a dark parking garage in an increasingly dirty dress while she occasionally screams. P2 isn’t really torture porn (it doesn’t seem to have a big enough budget for too much of the skin-serrating, limb-removing action that fills the Saw movies); it’s terror porn. Angela is terrified throughout the whole movie and each scene seems to try to wring out as much of that as possible.

In addition to being yet another in a line of chick-in-peril movies that doesn’t particularly add anything to the genre and isn’t constructed with any particular skill, P2 just feels flat. Wes Bentley, who looks like he might still be in character from the weird kid in American Beauty, reminds you why he didn’t go the way of Jake Gyllenhaal, whom he vaguely resembles, with this flat performance. As for Rachel Nichols, when you aren’t looking at your watch, you’ll be trying to figure out where you know her from (Alias) — neither activity gets you excited about her character here.

P2 isn’t the worst movie like this ever made. It’s just completely unnecessary. D

Rated R for strong violence/gore, terror and language. Directed by Franck Khalfoun and written by Alexandre Aja, Franck Khalfoun and Gregory Levasseur, P2 is an hour and 38 minutes long and is distributed in wide release by Summit Entertainment.