Take “Red Eye,” mix it with “Creep,” and add a dash of “Haute Tension,” finely puree with a sprinkle of camp, and what you have is a long tall glass of this demented horror film called “P2.” Sure enough, upon all the previews and stills, I expected almost nothing from this especially with the rather forgettable title, but director Khalfoun’s knack for tension teamed with Alexandre Aja’s tight writing concoct a veritable darkly humorous stalk and chase entry with our small cast helping this to rise above tedium.
A gorgeous busty blond woman is trapped overnight in a parking lot on the second level during Christmas Eve and is pretty much marooned until morning. But while in this dark level, with her cell phone conveniently malfunctioned, she finds herself at the mercy of a psychotic security guard and his rabid guard dog that have been keeping tabs on her more than she realizes.
Though Bentley, who continues riding on his crazy eyed killer gleam, never quite took off after “American Beauty,” I can’t deny that he’s entertaining here and he brings a sympathetic lunacy to his performance as Tom, the kindly, boyish, and insistent security guard who “accidentally” crashes into stranded heroine Angela as she attempts to leave. At first he’s funny and a bit nerdy but as her office building is locked down all around her and she awakens strapped by the leg to a table forced to engage in a Christmas dinner, she finds leaving will be harder than she imagines.
Especially since obsessive Tom really isn’t the problem. It’s more the obedient
Rockwilder Rottweiler aptly named Rocky who doesn’t take to her too well. For many, “P2” won’t be a win. It’s strictly a love it or hate it horror flick with moments bordering on utter absurdity. Perhaps it’s my sheer adoration for B grade horror, perhaps it’s my attraction to Rachel Nichols, or maybe it’s just the claustrophobic atmosphere, but Khalfoun’s “P2” is never slow, and never fails to entertain when it wants to.
Rachel Nichols gives an understated performance as Angela, the bookish and self-obsessed working gal who is turned into a sex doll for Tom once he kidnaps her, and she soon must rely on her wits and strength to go toe to toe and survive his relentless pursuit as he rigs the various levels of the parking lot as traps and lurking grounds set amidst the winter cold only inches above the lot. She’s not the typical dumb tart these sorts of horror films require; instead she’s fast, crafty, and rarely ever loses her cool around Tom.
Khalfoun definitely has his influence by Aja who is one of the writers, providing similar stalk and slash tension previously set in “Haute Tension” along with some memorably sadistic moments that topple over the predictable clichés of these hostage thrillers. There’s Tom doing a great Elvis impression set to “Blue Christmas,” the elevator turned into a water filled death trap, and of course Tom’s lust for voyeurism.
Nichols and Bentley have a wry chemistry with each other and they turn “P2” into an exhilarating horror film with the classic cat and mouse formula that’s occasionally creaky but goes down well with great moments of bloody carnage and close calls. Bentley justifies the madness of the Tom character as this menacing psychopath who is also quite pathetic underneath his skin because he just wants to be friends with her, in spite of the attempted maimings and drownings.
If you take “P2” with a strictly tongue in cheek attitude you’ll have a blast with it as I did; bask in the splatter, the smart characters, the insanely over the top performance from Bentley, the strong lead from Nichols, and just enjoy the ride.