P2 (2007)
By: J.R. McNamara on July 14, 2009  | 
Reel (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. English (FHI) Subtitles. 94 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Franck Khalfoun
Starring: Wes Bentley, Rachel Nichols
Screenplay: Gregory Levasseur, Alexandre Aja, Franck Khalfoun
Country: USA
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When Alexandre Aja burst onto the English speaking world most of us were fairly gob-smacked by a film, called either High Tension, or Haute Tension, or even Switchblade Romance, that put a pair of pliers on ones testicles, and gave both a good squeeze and pinch. The announcement of his first foray into English filmmaking was met initially with some resistance, seeing as how we were being given a remake of the much loved Wes Craven mutant classic The Hills Have Eyes, though most of that resistance faltered once the film was released, and it was seen to me a fairly butt-kicking film, rather than a flaccid version of a classic. The next announcement was met with mixed reactions: Aja was not to direct this film, but instead was to have writing and producing credits. Some skeptical at the way films are advertised had decided that Aja was adding his name to a substandard film just to make some cash between his directorial efforts, and considering the director of this film was to be a first timer, Franck Khalfoun, it seemed as though this may have been what was happening. So P2 was released, and what was delivered was a shiny, glossy Hollywood version of a sleazy film. Does that always work?

Unfortunately not.

P2 tells the tale of young professional Angela (the lovely Rachel Nichols) who is being harassed by her family to actually make it to a family occasion for a change. The occasion is that of Christmas, so as her building empties of its various staff members, she remains to make sure that any last minute loose ends are tied up. Finally she manages to leave her office, and makes her way to her car, ominously parked on level 'P2', only to find that it won't start. She manages to enlist the assistance of the security parking guard, Thomas (American Beauty's Wes Bentley) who, after using a charger, decides it is not her battery, and must be something else.

Angela decides to leave her car and catch a cab to New Jersey, but when the cab turns up, she finds herself trapped within the building. The cab eventually leaves, abandoning her inside the now practically empty building. She returns to the garage where she is rendered unconscious by our previously friendly security guard Thomas. Unfortunately for Angela, it would seem that Thomas has 2 obsessions: Elvis, and her… and seeing as how in 2007 it would be difficult to kidnap Elvis in his parking garage over Christmas, he picks his second obsession. So begins the game of cat and mouse, as we are treated to capture and escape and recapture, with a few scenes of violence in between, to keep the gorehound amused, until eventually one must survive, and the other must perish.

This film is glossy and shiny, but for its subject matter it has, for me, a few problems. The first is the casting of Bentley. Sure this young man has a great presence and really chews up the screen when he is in psycho mode, but my disbelief had to be suspended from Centrpoint Tower to think for one second that an attractive young man such as he would be a lonely psycho… it's a shame Joe Zito isn't still alive - now he I would have believed in this part. The second problem is also a casting issue, but quite the opposite from Bentley's. Rachel Nichols is a stunning girl, and those who have seen her in The Woods or The Amityville Horror will know this, but she just wasn't likeable enough. For the viewer to really be afraid for the protagonist, one must either like them or feel empathy for them, and I felt neither for Angela… actually I was more praying that her top would fall off while she was running around in the cold and the dark. From the start she seemed fairly self involved and unlikable, and maybe that made her character more realistic, but if I wanted realism I would go to work - this is a movie, Godammit!!!

The idea of this film is nice and scary, but the sexing up of the whole affair made it too 'nice'. For a film like this to work properly, it really needed to feel far more sordid. One other thing I found exceptionally amusing was what eventually pushes Angela over the edge: when Thomas calls her the forbidden 'C' word that a gentleman must NEVER call a lady (you know the one: cunt). Hilarious.
As you would expect from a new release of a new film, the picture quality is nothing short of perfect. The film itself is presented in 2.35:1 with 16:9 enhancement and is really a beautiful image.
The sound in this film is marvelous. It is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and at times really kicks arse. The fact that the film is based in a parking garage gave it a real opportunity to use echo to grand effect, and they were brilliantly.
Extra Features
There are a few extras on this disc, which cut together could have been one great extra, instead of a few average ones. All of these extras feature little sound bytes from Wes Bentley, Rachel Nichols, Director/ co-writer Franck Khalfoun, producer Alexandre Aja, cinematographer Maxime Andandre, designer Oleg Savytski and stunt co-coordinator Jamie Jones. None of them provide a massive amount of information about the film, but do offer little tidbits and a moderate amount of ego stoking for Franck Khalfoun. These mini docos are titled A New Level of Fear: The Making of P2, which is a mini-look at the production, Designing Terror, which looks at the usage of the underground carpark set and the joys and frustrations of it and Tension Nouveau: Presenting Franck Khalfoun, which is a look at the directors work, but comes across as somewhat of a ego-stroke… like these types of extras often do.

There is also a director/writer/producer's commentary performed by by Franck Khalfoun, Alexandra Aja and Gregory Levasseur. In general it can be an informative commentary, though the accents of Aja and Levasseur may cause some people quite a bit of trouble (they both have quite thick French accents). The three of them seem to enjoy each others company, and they play off each other quite well, though they do seem to get involved in watching the film at times and forget to comment.

This disc also features trailers for Storm Warning and Boogeyman 2.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
The thing I found strange about this movie is that is would have worked much better if it were less. As I wrote earlier, this could have been a brilliant B movie, but instead it came across as a second-rate A film. Sure the filming was neat, and the violence was nice, but it was still all a little pleasant. Wes Bentley's performance as Thomas was at times quite scary, but unfortunately his good looks made him a tad unbelievable as the psycho. Also, the scenes of Angela seeing a video of Thomas molesting her while she was passed out were almost innocent, and only felt a tad sordid. In the hands of a B great like William Lustig this could have been a sleazy spectacular, instead of the 'nice' thriller that it is. I like this film, but with an uglier lead male and a little nudity, it could have been perfect.

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