P2 (UK - BD RB)
Marcus Doidge visits parking level P2 and thought it would have been scarier
It’s Christmas Eve and workaholic Angela (Rachel Nichols) is at the office late. Rushing off for a family party, she heads to her car on parking level two, which is the what the film's P2 title refers to, so it’s safe to assume that this isn’t going to go quite as planned.
Anyway, Angela’s car won’t start and after a failed attempt of help from the parking security officer Tom (Wes Bentley), Angela calls for a cab and waits in the office lobby. With the doors locked and the cabby too impatient to wait, Angela heads back to P2. Unfortunately it’s time for lights out in the parking area and to make things worse Tom, the seemingly kind hearted security officer, turns out to be quite the mental case.
Drugging Angela and chaining her leg to his office table, Tom wakes his prisoner up in full Santa outfit, HO HO HO, and begins spouting the usual thriller nonsense about how he’s been watching her and how they would make a great couple despite her many sins (yawn). All this is backed up with the fact that at some stage in this kidnapping, Tom had stripped Angela and put her in the tightest white Marilyn Monroe-esq dress he could get his mitts on—maybe not the best way to woo your beloved on Christmas Eve.
What follows is a series of terrorising acts, including the truly gruesome killing of one of Angela’s work colleagues, as well as one of the most inventive ways of getting someone out of a lift that I’ve seen in movies.
Despite P2’s parking lot being one of the best areas for scares in quite some time, it’s all a bit overplayed. P2 embraces many of the thriller clichés without really utilising the traits that could come with its setting. The makers really concentrate on the age old ‘I’ve been watching you’ bad guy and the damsel in distress, but they never really capture just how scary a place a parking lot can be, even without a full on twisted Elvis fanatic chasing a girl around in it. Sadly P2 just becomes a series of hide and seek moments cobbled together with typically bad horror decisions from its lead. As a couple of examples, when you find an axe, maybe you could try smashing down some of those locked doors you were having problems with earlier or maybe even the main entrance to the parking lot, before you go straight after your terroriser and his mean Rottweiler, or alternatively, when this decision does pay off and you have your mental wannabe boyfriend down, finish him off, rather than running to find yet another place to hide.
It’s not that this is a bad thriller; it’s just a very typical one. Wes Bentley just provides a very obvious psycho, who brings absolutely nothing new to the table other than looking like the evil Tobey Maguire, which is a shame because I thought his recent work in Weirdsville showed a hint of better things to come.
P2 still has its fair share of scares and the minor amount of gore it has is extreme, but it just did very little to engage me. Considering the producer of this movie is Alexandre Aja, whose High Tension lived up to its name in spades, you’d think that he would have had produced more of an impact with a movie that really could have had you on edge for its entirety, even if he wasn‘t on directing duties this time out.
P2 was worrying at first. After a fairly good looking opener we are presented with a shot of the city, which I initially thought had snow falling on it. It’s not snow, it’s grain. Thankfully this is an isolated shot and never occurs again. As for the rest of the movie's transfer, it does okay. The colours look very good against the stark backgrounds. Angela’s red coat and the Christmas decorations peppered throughout the movie all look pretty fantastic. It’s just a shame there’s not more in the way of detail. The image really isn’t a sharp one at all.
As for the darkness of the movie, it looks good for the most part, using some clever lighting tricks to make it light without ever being bright. There are a few shots where the only light source is a mobile phone display and that suffers from blocking, but all in all this is a transfer that just about shows off its HD benefits but never does anything that celebrates it.
This works to two extremes. I found some of the dialogue a little low in places and found myself turning it up a few notches to accommodate only to scramble to turn it down when the sound really kicked in. I also found it had a little too much bass throughout despite fiddling with my amp to ease it down.
That said, the sounds for much of the less significant sounds were good. Wine pouring into a glass, banging on doors, tires bursting and water pouring into a lift all sounded natural and clear and when they needed to, took full advantage of the surround system.
The commentary by director Franck Khalfoun, Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levassear plods along at a nice pace. It starts off with plenty of thoughts and feelings on the project and stories behind the decisions made. They mention how hard it is to make a psycho believable without tripping into funny or stupid, which after seeing the movie was something they failed to pull off in my mind. The second half tails off a little with more moments of silence and being reduced to describing what we’re seeing on screen before ending with remising how funny Wes Bentley’s ‘Tom’ was.
Moving onto the featurettes, we start with ‘A New Level of Fear’ (12:07), which is the making of. This is brief at best and really goes into little detail beyond a few feelings on the project.
‘Tension Nouveau: Presenting Franck Khalfoun’ (3:01) is a introduction to the film's director and his slanted to the right Hip Hop baseball cap and ‘Designing Terror (5:19) is once again an all too brief look at how they put together some of P2’s events. Also included is the Theatrical trailer (2:22).
For me, P2 is a movie that really could have benefited from reigning itself in a little more. It’s a movie that is already set in one of the scariest places people visit on a day to day basis without having to up the ante. A girl under threat by an Elvis nut with a rottweiler in a dark empty parking lot is some scary stuff without adding over the top psycho-monologues or flooding lifts or games of car chicken.
P2 is a real run of the mill thriller with all of the usual checkpoints along the way. It‘s got a few moments that make it memorable and has parts where the situation is handled well but overall these are tiny specs of entertainment in a largely repetitive forgettable ninety odd minutes. Maybe if this was caught late at night with no prior knowledge of what it was about, it may very well be effective but if you really want to check it out now, I’d suggest going with a rental first.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 29th September 2008
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Extras: Commentary, Featurettes, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Franck Khalfoun
Cast: Rachel Nichols, Wes Bentley
Genre: Horror and Thriller
Length: 97 minutes
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