May 29, 2008

P2 (2007)

My initial thoughts on this movie after I first read about it were that it would just be another predictable and stagnant thriller. You know the drill, such and such gets caught somewhere, psycho gives them grief, but behold they fight back and win! That was before I realised that Alexandra Aja and Gregory Lavasseur had written and produced it. Both were the brains behind the superb French shocker Haute Tension, as well as the superior remake of The Hills Have Eyes, so maybe, just maybe, I might be in for something a little different. Well, I won't beat about the bush, it was relatively predictable in certain areas, but it also had a couple of "holy shit!" moments that did impress as well as surprise me.

P2 is about young office executive Angela (Rachel Nichols) who, being totally dedicated to her job, is working late on Christmas Eve. She should be heading to her sister's for a family gathering but that would be another movie wouldn't it? Anyway, she makes sure she is just about the very last person to leave before heading down to the underground parking lot, or the P2 of the title, where lo and behold she finds that her less than shabby car won't start. I know, I can hear you groaning too just bear with me. So, she tries to go back upstairs in order to call a cab, only to find the access door is locked. Hold the groaning please. Fortunately for Angela there is a security guard working, so she asks for his assistance.

Now, if this was just a random security guard played by someone you'd never heard of you would just accept this as routine. However, this security who's name is Tom is played by Wes Bentley who may not be a A list actor but he's a large enough Star so that you know he's going to have a major part to play in this flick. And, before you can say "There's so much beauty in the world..." he goes all looney tunes, thus setting up a rather good cat and mouse thriller.

Whilst there are many predictable elements to P2, not to mention nasty plot holes, it held my attention from start to finish. Initially I felt no sympathy towards the Angela character; her early abruptness towards Tom only served in making me want him to make her suffer. This soon passed though as Tom's character is slowly unravelled, in what has to be one of the fine over the top performances in recent thrillers. He is ridiculously over the top in places; just wait until the Elvis scene.

What did make this movie work for me was a combination of factors which all added up to make this a winner in my eyes. The direction by newcomer, and Aja protegee Franck Khalfoun, was nicely executed giving a decent sense of claustrophobia and helplessness in the parking lot. Great lighting and a cool score also served to add to the atmosphere. I also can't forget one incredibly gory moment, that was completely unexpected and very impressive in terms of raising the horror bar in Angela's situation. On top of that Angela spends most of the movie trying to fall out of her clothing; alas she fails.

P2 is a movie that accepts the fact it is following a very cliched route, and makes no apologies using as it does so many of them, yet it manages to somehow come across as relatively fresh in its execution. Certain situations are telegraphed, whereas others are just daft but there is also a sense of not knowing quite what is going to happen next, and for a thriller that is half the battle won.

I would personally rather see Alexandra Aja work on something like this rather than one of the seemingly endless amount of remakes he is connected to (aside from his early Hills Have Eyes remake there is also Mirrors and Piranha on the horizon), but if that is his choice then more power to him, there is always Khalfoun, along with many other exciting new French directors, to keep a look out for.

Don't go into this movie expecting another Haute Tension, Hills Have Eyes or Inside even, because you won't get that. What you will find is a very decent and well made psycho thriller made by Frenchmen with a little Hollywood gloss sprayed over it. Exciting, bloody and just a little over the top which makes it well worth checking out.

Rating 3 Stars (out of 4)

Review by Jude Felton


Unknown said...

Seems like everybody and their Grandma has seen this. I better get on the ball. Excellent review.

JD said...

I expected nothing from this film and got a lot more out of it than I ever thought I would.
Good review.

Anonymous said...


the sneering (homo-phobic) snob said...

I thought this one was ludicrously under-rated on its initial release, its a quite superb film and is destined for cult status (i bet it becomes a Christmas favorite). By the way, Rachel Nichols is a breathtaking chick i felt cheated that we didn`t get to see her naked as well.