On the elevator button scale of horror, I would say that “P2” is not as scary as “LL1,” but a massive improvement over “GRND LVL.”
Stuck working overtime at her office, Angela (Rachael Nichols, “Alias”) is in a rush to meet her family for Christmas. When her car won’t start, she enlists the help of Thomas (Wes Bentley), the parking garage security officer. Seemingly affable and flirty, it turns out Thomas is a psychopath who’s had his eye on Angela for some time. Kidnapping and locking her away in his office, Thomas plans a quaint holiday evening around forcing Angela to fall in love with him. When she resists, it sets off a chain of murder, torture, and revenge that ruins Christmas forever.
There’s some hope offered in the opening credits of “P2” in the form of producer Alexandre Aja, the director of the magnificent “High Tension” and the “Hills Have Eyes” remake. Seeing his name attached to the screenplay immediately affirms that this throwaway horror film might not be so throwaway after all. Well…so much for the promise of screen credits.
Aja isn’t the director for this exercise in parking garage havoc. That honor goes to Franck Khalfoun, a newcomer and associate of Aja’s, getting his feet wet with a routine thriller that will more likely put the viewer to sleep than give them the scare of their life. Setting a thriller in a confined area isn’t a bad idea, but you’d be surprised just how flavorless a parking garage can be. Khalfoun isn’t accomplished enough as a filmmaker to jolt this story to life, and he lazily depends on boo scares and strange displays of fairly graphic gore to keep the crowds interested. It just isn’t enough, especially when lady logic is furiously beating down the door (I never knew one could rip off a fingernail passively reaching for a cell phone on the ground) and the acting couldn’t be worse if it tried.
The main offender is Wes Bentley who, after his display of cream puff badassery in this year’s “Ghost Rider,” should consider a career path in which he never plays a villain again. With a cheeseball Abercrombie model stare and internet-cafe-regular skin color, Bentley isn’t the least bit menacing, and I swear to God there should be a law against actors with feminine voices taking roles that require a great deal of screaming. It’s hilarious, which is most certainly not the intention of “P2.”
The rest of the film is standard issue thriller “entertainment,” only there’s a curious lack of invention to the piece and not a drop of emotional investment. The experience is mostly watching bad talent interact interminably without ever achieving a plot point and counting how many times the movie wets down Nichols’s ample cleavage. This is not horror. This is not much of a thriller either. It just stinks, and even worse, it’s unbelievably boring.Rating: D-