P2 – Review
A businesswoman is pursued by a psychopath after being locked in a parking garage on Christmas Eve.
It’s the third of December and day three of our Awful Advent 25 Days of Christmas Horror feature. Isn’t parking at Christmas a bitch? I remember spending an hour just waiting to get out of a relatively small retail park one year. Well, holy bad segue Batman today we are looking at a horror that takes place in a parking garage. I know what you are thinking, it is going to be nearly 2 hours of honking and awkward forced conversations. Well you would be wrong. It is actually nearly 2 hours of awkward interactions. Excessive amounts of soaking wet cleavage and Rachel Nichols screaming. Yep, we are taking a look at Franck Khalfoun’s P2 from 2007.
This is the second consecutive Christmas movie to take place on Christmas Eve. It follows young businesswoman Angela who is leaving late from work and heading to a party. Her car doesn’t start so she enlists the help of the parking garage attendant. Unbeknownst to her, he is actually a complete psycho who is about to make Christmas Eve a nightmare. We have the works here. Snow, Christmas decorations, Christmas songs. This is a great option for a horror to throw on in the lead up to Xmas. Is it good, though? Let’s take a look. As always, I will give a quick rundown of the movie, spoiler free of course. You can skip it if you like.
We’ve been on a bit of an end of the year run of themed features. We had K-O-Ween 31 Days of Halloween in October. We had a Fall Themed Horror movie month for November, Now It’s December and that can mean only one thing. It’s Awful Advent. We are reviewing a new horror for each of the days leading up to Christmas. That’s not all, we will also review a bonus movie for Christmas day itself. 25 horror movies to make your December just that little more frighteningly festive… Or should that be festively frightening? I am not sure, whatever.. It’s going to be scary.
The catch? All of the movies must be set around or feature Christmas. Movies based on a specific Christmas theme are even better. Christmas and horror have always gone hand in hand. There are tons of movies to look at and I expect you can probably predict a few right now. With that being said. Check back every day of December for something new.
P2 – Synopsis
P2 follows the story of Angela, played by Rachel Nichols. Angela is due to attend a Christmas party with her family. She has an outfit packed, a Santa clause suit to surprise her family with and a bunch of presents. Working in an office, she is forced to stay late on Christmas eve. She lets her sister know she will be running a little behind but assures her that she will be coming. When she is finally done, she heads down to the elevators. Arriving in the car park below, Angela gets in her car. As she attempts to start it, she is dismayed to realise that there is a problem. The car won’t turn over no matter how many times she tries.
Walking across the parking garage to find some help. She arrives at the office of security guard Thomas, played by Wes Bentley. Bentley offers to help her assuming it is likely a flat battery. Attempting to jump the car, the pair have no luck. Frustrated, Angela says she will grab a taxi. Wes offers her to share a Christmas meal with him. Angela, seeming surprised, laughs it off as Wes claims it was a joke. She heads up to the main building and calls a cab.
The taxi arrives only for Angela to realise the doors are locked. She runs back to the parking garage and attempts to call the attendant to open the gate. Without Warning, Wes wraps his arms around her and covers her mouth with a chloroform soaked rag. The next thing Angela knows. She is waking up feeling nauseous wearing the dress she had packed and chained to the table. She is in for a Christmas eve she will never forget.
Cat and Mouse Christmas Horror
P2 is produced and written by Haute Tension director Alexandre Aja. In the vein of the aforementioned, P2 is a traditional cat and mouse style horror movie. Starting like any other horror movie featuring a psychotic stalker. We have to get to know our protagonist. With this in mind, we are introduced to Angela.
Angela is a hard working young woman that has been spending a bit too much time in the office. Her family seem to think she is fairly unreliable. They are entirely expecting her to skip the party they have arranged. Apparently Angela has had a recent unfortunate encounter with a lecherous co-worker. The dude sexually assaulted her in the elevator after a party. He wants to apologise and Angela accepts. Both of these things will become pivotal to the plot later on in the movie. P2 sets up its story points early and that pays off later on.
A Twisted Security Guard
Security guard Thomas is, at first glance, a seemingly normal guy. Sharing his office with his rottweiler Rocky. Thomas has decorated the place and looks ready for Christmas. The thing is, he has nobody to share it with. Thomas is all alone and he always has been. Being the security guard for the building. He has access to the entire network of cameras and all of the key cards.
What could be more perfect for someone that wants to kidnap a woman? It just so happens that the woman he has been watching for a long time is working late. It’s Christmas eve and everyone has left early. The scene setting is pretty well done. The building is deserted, the parking lot is locked down and Thomas is the only one with a key. Nobody can get in and nobody can get out. Hell, you can’t even get a phone signal in the thick walls of the parking garage.
A Unique Horror Setting
Set in a multi-level parking lot, it’s actually quite hard to imagine just how this could work. Parking garages should be a fairly simple place to escape from, right? They usually only have barriers which a person on foot could walk around. Surely a person could jump in an elevator and head to the main building. Well, what if the person who is trying to stop you from escaping is also the security guard. He has the keys and has locked the building down completely. There is nobody else there and no phone signal. The result is a location that acts like something of a multi-level fun park for a psycho.
Initially kicking off in Thomas’ security office. The action quickly moves to the parking garage itself. Thomas follows her through elevators, under cars, into rental offices and more. Angela can’t escape so Thomas does not have to rush. He knows he will find her and can follow her movement on the network of cameras.
I think this location does a nice job of tapping into a fear that many have. Parking lots, especially underground ones, can be quite scary. They are dark, sound travels tremendously and they have plenty of shadows and corners to hide in. I imagine many women can relate to this fear. In the case of P2, the parking garage offers places to hide but, also, no escape. Angela traverses the levels efficiently and finds places to slink away to. This ups the cat and mouse feeling of the movie. Thomas really has to search for Angela and takes his time doing it.
A Different Kind of Protagonist
Angela is a driven and motivated woman. Obviously highly successful in work, she is not about to take this lying down. She is not your typical damsel in distress. In fact, the fight starts almost from the get go. Despite being chained up, Angela comes out swinging. Thomas likely didn’t plan for this. The result is a pursuit that continues for nearly the entire duration of the movie. There are twists and turns but Angela is always fighting back.
Thomas, on the other hand, is something of a Norman Bates character. Coming across as somewhat awkward, he rapidly changes in personality. Believing he is fully justified in what he is doing. Thomas is obsessed with Angela and thinks she should appreciate what he is doing for her. Angela attempts to reason with him. When that doesn’t work, she makes threats. Eventually she is forced to fight back. As far as horror movie villains go, Thomas is fairly middle of the road. He is prone to moments of hyper aggression which can switch the mood up a bit. Angela actually feels fairly well matched up against him, however. Thomas doesn’t feel that threatening. This is part of the problem with P2. It just feels very middle of the road and lacks in tension.
Lots of Gore and a Shocking End
P2 has a few scenes that are legitimately up there with the most graphic I have ever seen. There aren’t many of them but one, in particular, is pretty horrific. Obviously I won’t spoil it but let’s just say the camera doesn’t cut away from the scene. It is brutal and very graphic. The practical effects look very realistic and gore hounds are going to have a great time. The movie doesn’t try to force the issue with regards to the gore, however. With the exception of one notable moment of body horror, it feels like it fits the plot.
This theme extends to the ending. I won’t spoil, obviously, but I genuinely think a few people may be shocked. It has that feeling of “was that necessary?” about it. Working as something of an extension of Angela’s capable nature as a protagonist. It’s a surprise outcome and is somewhat refreshing for its violence.
Rachel Nichols takes the lead here and she does an excellent job. This is a fairly physical role. The game of hide and seek extends up ramps, through gaps in walls and under cars. She is well up to the task and handles it like a pro. Angela’s a very capable protagonist ready to take the fight to Thomas. Nichols delivers on this perfectly. She feels very fitting as a character not willing to be a damsel in distress.
Interestingly, Wes Bentley only accepted this acting job so he could buy drugs. He was a hopeless addict at the time and needed money for coke and heroin. Totally sober now for over 12 years, his is an inspirational story. Still, that revelation might explain some of the wild eyes he has during the movie. Bentley puts on a fairly decent performance. Thomas is just a bit of a weak character, however. He isn’t intimidating and Bentley is almost forced to play the role for laughs. I did enjoy some of his mood switches. The poorly written character doesn’t offer much room for development. It is what it is.
Oh So Much Cleavage
I actually felt quite sorry for Nichols, at times. I can only imagine the look on her face when she was given her dress by the costume department. You may have noticed from screenshots and the cover that this is outfit is fairly revealing. The fact that Nichols was asked to crawl, run and fight while 70% of her boobs were hanging out seems unfair. Nichols is clearly a fairly busty gal as well.
I know this is a part of horror. I just can’t help but feel bad for her. There are a number of scenes where she gets absolutely soaked as well. She looks freezing and I am fairly sure her shivering, at times, was legit. I get that horror movies feature scenes purely for titillation. It’s hard not to imagine that this must have been a horribly uncomfortable shoot for her, though. The nipple tape budget must have been astronomical as well.
Seen It All Before
P2 just doesn’t do anything different. Yes, Angela is a more capable protagonist and isn’t prone to the usual tropes of horror damsels. Outside of that, however, it is a predictable and fairly mediocre stalker horror. The location, while being fairly unique, is actually quite boring. Despite Angela having access to the elevator system we never spend any time in the building. The potential for Thomas stalking her around offices and the like was palpable. Unfortunately, it is never realised and we barely leave the parking garage. Strap in tight because you are going to be staring at concrete for nearly 2 hours.
That leads nicely into my second point. This movie runs far too long. At nearly 1 hour and 40 minutes it is a bit of a demanding watch. Movies like this do a lot better fully wrapped up by the 75 – 80 minute mark. The extra 20 minutes or so feel redundant and don’t do much for the plot. P2 also feels like it is re-treading the same path over and over, in parts. The pacing could do with a lot of work and trimming at least 10 minutes would have been a very good idea.
A Few Plot Holes
We have a few plot holes here and there. It’s nowhere near as bad as Aja’s Haute Tension which is like the swiss cheese of the horror world. There are a few leaps of logic, however. A few scenes feel like Angela basically has to reveal her location. Angela was doing such a good job escaping that there was no logical way for Thomas to find her. She is actually amazingly good at the proverbial cat and mouse game. She could have stayed hidden indefinitely.
I am fairly sure there was a significant amount of audio dubbing at times. This actually undermines Nichols’ performance a little. It also makes Angela seem a little stupid. She makes loud noises when she is hiding and whimpers to herself frequently. This is contrary to the fact that Angela is actually pretty bad ass. Once again, I don’t know if this was added to make Angela seem more vulnerable. It’s hard not to notice the awkward moaning and groaning while her lips never move, however.
The sound production, in general, is a bit shit. There is a huge disparity between loud and quiet sounds. This is used to hit you with some very annoying jump scares. This is a trend in horror that I hate. Cranking the volume to hear the quiet dialogue just to be hit with a loud bang. Get a little more creativity, please.
Still a Fun Christmas Horror
All of that being said, this is still worth a watch. These movies are what they are. A psychotic person chases someone around a building. There is nothing too complicated and, when you look at it like that, P2 is fine. Angela is a bit more of a capable protagonist. She never really does anything stupid. Thomas, while being quite annoying at times and not threatening at all, is quite funny. The location is unique, there is plenty of gore, and the acting is fine. If you are looking for something to throw on. If you don’t want to think too much. You could honestly do a lot worse. I have watched P2 a good few times and always enjoy it. It is flawed but entirely watchable.
Is it a Knockout?
P2 is a cat and mouse style horror movie featuring a hard working protagonist being stalked by a lonely psychopath. Taking place in the unusual setting of a parking garage on Christmas eve. The movie has some fairly tense moments and decent acting. Angela is an unusal protagonist in that she doesn't fall foul of typical horror tropes. She is smart and willing to fight back. This leads to a somewhat unique dynamic for this type of hide and seek horror.
Decently acted, a few scenes can be a little toe curling for their silliness. A few parts of the movie are incredibly gory and the ending can be quite shocking. The sheer amount of cleavage on show will likely provoke a few eye rolls. It's hard mot to be impressed with Nichol's physical performance, however. She is put through the ringer and does fantastic. Still, we have seen this all before. It's nothing new, there is lack of tension and the location can get very boring. It is still a fairly fun movie, however. If you are looking for an easy to watch Christmas horror, P2 does fit the bill.