As thriller titles go, "P2" conveys about as much dread as "Mezzanine. " (Its actual tagline: "A new level of fear. ") It also implies confidence...
As thriller titles go, “P2” conveys about as much dread as “Mezzanine.” (Its actual tagline: “A new level of fear.”) It also implies confidence on the filmmakers’ part that they’ve released something of high enough quality to circumvent the obvious juvenile taunts. Bold. A dare, almost.
They say on the official Web site that they wanted it to be the “Jaws” of woman-trapped-in-a-parking-garage movies. That bold claim, along with a viewing of the laugh-out-loud awful result, may, in fact, make you want to … uh, not hold it in? Damn that title.
Young corporate climber Angela (Rachel Nichols from TV’s “Alias”) chronically neglects her family and is working late on Christmas Eve. Which makes this a holiday movie, too. Running late to be with them and nearly alone in her huge office building, she’s about to speed out of its cavernous underground parking garage when she finds her car dead. Before she can even consider AAA, enter Tom, the helpful garage attendant (Wes Bentley, “American Beauty”). In short order, he goes from helpful to a-little-too-helpful, to creepy, to deranged stalker/killer.
After Tom knocks Angela out, she wakes up in a skimpy dress and chained by the ankle. The rest of the movie consists of Tom — and his Rottweiler — terrorizing her and chasing her while her breasts heave festively in the little, and eventually soaking wet, dress. Reading just that last sentence, it’s reasonable for you to ask, “So where’s the problem?” A whole successful genre of women-in-peril slasher flicks came out of such dresses in the ’80s, to the annoyance of feminists, regardless that the women routinely turn the tables on the psycho bad guy.
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Even the greatest fans of that genre, who spend other time staring into bare light bulbs, would find “P2” an exercise about as empty as the garage, though. There’s almost no information about either character, which makes it hard to connect with either one, or the Rottweiler. Co-writer and producer Alexandre Aja was responsible for the respectable French import “High Tension” and the at-least-watchable “Hills Have Eyes” remake. It’s hard to parse the blame between him and first-time director Franck Khalfoun — likely to be known in the future as “one-time director” — for the low tension here.
Fresh from a bad-guy role in “Ghost Rider” that would have delighted “Saturday Night Live’s” Leonard Pinth-Garnel character, Bentley drew open laughs from the preview audience every time he whined, “I just want to help you,” “I just want to talk to you” and the like at Angela. The humor may be intentional, though, when he kills a couple of other people and thanks them for ruining Christmas.
“P2” may be bad enough to become some other type of classic than the holiday kind. And the sequel possibilities are only limited by the number of parking levels you can imagine. But after the ordeal is finished, you’ll only be grateful for the sweet release.
Mark Rahner: email@example.com