P2 Movie Review
Getting stuck in a parking garage on Christmas Eve would not be fun. Getting stuck in a parking garage on Christmas Eve with a creepy security guard who has lusted after you for years and is willing to drug you and kill your friends would - I would imagine - be even worse.
Such is the case in P2, a horror-thriller that almost exclusively stars Rachel Nichols and Wes Bentley. Nichols plays a young executive who ends up working late the night before Christmas. When she gets to her car, she finds, to her horror, that the battery is dead. When she tries to call a cab, she can't get out the front door. In fact, every exit from the building - and ultimately the parking garage - is locked. And her saving grace, Thomas, the security guard, is a lonely psychopath who has been watching her for a long time. Luckily for her, Thomas has prepared the perfect evening, full of wine, a beautiful white dress, some together time, and, of course, the absolute destruction of one of her colleagues.
I had heard not-so-great things about P2, but it's actually a very entertaining thriller. The movie is refreshingly simple. It doesn't try to overdo things, nor does it attempt to scare you with those fake loud noises and so on and so forth. It may not be perfect, but it is an authentic little film. Director Franck Khalfoun keeps things going at just the right pace; he doesn't try to rush the movie in the beginning, and offers up just enough character development to set the stage for things to come. Ultimately, P2 is exciting and suspenseful - which is everything I wanted and more.
P2 does not have a lot of gore, but when it offers it up, it offers it up in Old Country Buffet servings. There is one scene that is just brutal. I mean, head-smashing, skin-splitting, intestine-spilling brutal. This is the way gore should be presented, not like in the Saw or Hostel movies where they try to make you squirm so much that by the end, you just don't care. P2 is simple, to-the-point and reinforces itself with a memorable scene that really makes you squirm.
The actors do a pretty good job in their respective roles. Relative newcomer Rachel Nichols holds her own for the most part. She's pretty, has great cleavage and can pull off the scared victim/tough girl quite well. Even though it's a horror movie, P2 is not an easy film, as Nichols pretty much has to hold the entire film on her shoulders. If she turns in a cheesy performance, the movie is ultimately going to wind up cheesy. Thankfully, she is pretty good. Not great, but pretty good. There are a few parts where she wavers near the end, but I couldn't have expected anything more.
As for Bentley, he is also pretty good, but not great. Bentley, who did good-guy creepy in American Beauty, pulls off bad-guy creepy quite well, though he never reaches Jack Nicholson The Shining level. Still, he is an actor capable of great things, and he delivers a well-balanced performance here.
P2 loses a bit of steam near the end as it devolves into a standard victim-turns-on-the-killer format. I would have opted for a simpler ending, but it's not surprising that Khalfoun continues to raise the bar. As there is only one protagonist and one villain in the film, you pretty much know how things are going to end, but there is still a mild sense of suspense once the climax is reached.
P2 has its flaws, but for a horror film, it delivers more solidly than most.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.