Newest Review: ... lurk around every pillar and I find myself walking hurriedly or even sometime running to the safety of my car. The thought of being trapped... more
Member Name: shaneo632
Advantages: Good actors, some good gore
Disadvantages: Too rudimentary
note: also appears on my film review website, ShaunMunro.co.uk!
P2 is the latest entry into the canon of Christmas-time horror films, seemingly kick-started by 2006's hilariously bad Black Christmas. P2 is by no means a terrible film, but seems to be a case of director Franck Khalfoun attempting to instil a sense of complexity and worth into his project, when, for all means and purposes, it really isn't necessary, especially when it seems this awkward and confused.
The film's premise harks back as far as horror films go - our protagonist, Angela (Rachel Nichols), is a happy-go-lucky, hard-working businesswoman, and as Khalfoun goes through the motions of establishing her as a fairly affable human being, I have to ask - would it kill him to just cut to the chase (no pun intended)? Angela essentially becomes locked inside a parking garage on Christmas Eve, entirely separated from humanity, as a sadistic stalker toys with her (Wes Bentley).
P2 has its effective moments - as Angela saunters around the parking garage in her initial moments of despair, the garage becomes shrouded in darkness, and a very authentic sense of dread pervades through this. What I admired most about the opening portion of the film was the decision not to constantly shroud Bentley's character in darkness, instead presenting him to us from the outset, and very quickly establishing him as a psychopath, without letting us know quite what his intentions are.
We learn little of the antagonist's past, but we do learn that he is not a cut and dry, garden variety lunatic - there is a dichotomy about this man, in that he accommodates the captive heroine, tending to her illnesses (although he did cause them through his use of chloroform). For a decent portion of P2, we are left unsure as to whether Tom is simply a lonely, confused man - we never learn of any parental issues or jilting ex-girlfriends, and whilst P2 is at times a cheesy film, this removes a layer in that respect.
Where P2 begins to irk is as Angela and her captor engage in their first discourse, and we realise that Tom is too intelligent to the point of implausibility - his acts begin to show an air of deliberation, in that he knows all about Angela and her family. One would feel far more terrified of this character had he chosen his victim at random, yet the depth of planning Tom exhibits verges on unrealistic to the point of annoyance.
What the film does right in regard to Bentley's character is to confront him as an individual rather than hide him from us at every instance - often he encounters Angela in well-lit rooms, and whilst he traverses the darkness later on, it doesn't feel like a cheap thrill for the most part.
Regrettably, the film's second half takes a distinct turn for the worse, even employing what appears to be a shameless pilfering of Saw-esque themes, as Tom unveils a few surprises locked away within the garage, such as an individual who recently violated Angela, and offers her the choice to exact her pound of flesh from him.
Up until this point, P2 is surprisingly restrained with its blood and guts, not showering the screen with intestines and crushed skulls until over the half-way mark, and even then, the gore is fairly infrequent, although rather graphic when it does occur. With this comes another problem - the violence is ridiculously over-the-top, and not in a fun Kill Bill-esque fashion, either. This film intends to be serious, yet when a man's insides quite literally fall out of him and blood splats onto car windshields with the velocity of a bullet train, one must ask where the lines between horror and parody converge.
Despite the veritable overkills, Bentley's stalking rarely, if ever appears unrealistic - we see coverage of him on security cameras getting from A to B, and he never emerges out of nowhere - all of it is reasoned and moderately practical.
One inevitably has to ask how long a film set only in a parking garage can last, and moreover, how long it can maintain consistent. It becomes clear in the film's second half that this isn't very long, as our protagonist, the buxom Nichols, plods around various lifts and offices, soaking wet and frolicking in a rather revealing nightdress.
Gorehounds will be disappointed by P2's infrequent gore, and similarly, anyone searching for an intelligent plot should look elsewhere. After a fairly dull introduction, P2 begins to show a degree of promise, particular with Wes Bentley's effectively chilling performance, yet it is mired by an inconsistent, and frankly, rather boring second half. This fatal game of cat-and-mouse grasps at straws tightly, and by the hour mark, even those none too fond of gratuitous violence may be calling for blood, if only to liven up this plodding, tiresome picture.
For a film that has attempted to sidestep the endless number of clichés inundating the majority of modern Hollywood horror, the manner in which the film ends is devastatingly unoriginal, with our protagonist becoming fed up of running and instead metamorphosing into a certifiable badass, turning the tables on her aggressor. It's none too satisfying, and in fact, quite preposterous.
P2 distinguishes itself from other horror films very slightly - it reveals the threat to us from the outset, and isn't mired by a wealth of terrible acting. Nichols' performance is by no means impressive, but she isn't terrible, and Wes Bentley, for the most part (other than when he starts screaming incomprehensibly, which almost inspires laughter) is a convincing psychopath. Had P2 endured a rewrite in its third act, then this would be an above-average horror thriller, instead of a marginally mediocre one.
Summary: A by the numbers slasher pic