In case you will ever get trapped in a parking garage and are kidnapped by a psycho on Christmas Eve, don’t count on 911 because they will put you on hold for at least five minutes. This is just one of many absurdities I counted in “P2,” a dreadful horror thriller in which the plot is painfully monotonous, suspense is conspicuously absent, and the characters make the dumbest decisions possible.
The story of “P2” is standard material all throughout, and it won’t take you more than 10 minutes to figure out which way the plot is heading. We’re in New York and it’s Christmas Eve, and everybody except Angela Bridges (Rachel Nichols) is at home celebrating with their family. Angela is working late and the last person to leave her office, but when she finally calls it a day and runs to her car on the P2 parking level, the darn BMW won’t start.
Minutes later, Angela is chased around the parking garage by a guy named Thomas (Wes Bentley), a wacko security guard who’s been watching her for months and is convinced the two of them would make a great couple. Angela sees things a bit different, but she quickly runs out of options. With the parking garage on lockdown and no one out there who could hear her scream, she has no choice but to face her fears and try to survive the night.
For the most part, “P2” follows the structure of a conventional cat-and-mouse thriller, in which the victim – usually an attractive woman – is clever enough to escape form the hands of her ruthless captor but too stupid to hide and move things in her favor. And as in many films of the same genre, the script quickly runs out of juice and wraps up with that ridiculous twist that turns the victim into a merciless hero.
With only a few surprises on board and a handful of weak shock moments that don’t fulfill their purpose, there’s not much else to say about the plot of the film except that it lacks innovation and generally moves at a slow pace. Angela just spends most of the film shrieking with fear and running from one parking level to another while Thomas and his bulldog are always hot on her trails.
There’s some heavy gore on the menu as well, and this is not a surprise. The movie is co-written and produced by Alexandre Aja, the mind behind the ultra-violent “Haute Tension” and last year’s remake of “The Hills Have Eyes.” Both films were visually sharp and generated an intense sense of terror and fear (at least “Haute Tension” did), but “P2” has neither of these qualities.
First-time director Franck Khalfoun delivers edgy camerawork that occasionally boosts the plot, but the script never allows for a serious outbreak of suspense. Those going into “P2” expecting Rachel Nichols to show a lot of cleavage are the only ones getting something in return for the admission price. Everyone else will probably be busy sitting through the entire movie thinking about how they could have better invested their time and money.
Review by Franck Tabouring