Dir. Franck Khalfoun (2007)
A businesswoman who gets locked in a parking garage after an office Christmas party finds herself being pursued by a psychopathic killer.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
From the mind of visionaries Alexandre Aja and Gregory Lavasseur (High Tension) and directed by first-time auteur Franck Khalfoun (Maniac) comes P2, a tiny contained thriller about a young woman who is being pursued by a killer after an office Christmas party. Much like the shark movie, in which swimmers are pursued while being abandoned alone in the ocean, or the killer clown movie, in which there are clowns, P2 plays on a real-life fear that isn’t often dealt with in the horror genre. Women in America, for decades and for good reason, are terrified of the deserted parking garage, a place from which there is no place to run and very few witnesses to prevent nefarious events from unfolding.
Rachel Nichols (The Amityville Horror 2005) plays Angela, a young businesswoman who is having a rough time at work before having a much rougher time after work. She’s heading out to spend the holidays at her sister’s house, she’s running late, and when her car doesn’t start, she seeks the help of the building’s security guard, Thomas (Wes Bentley, American Beauty, Yellowstone). This proves to be a mistake, because he’s got more than a few screws loose and decides that he wants to have her for his Christmas treat. The film is carried entirely by their two performances, which work pretty well and make the insular film remain compelling throughout, as Tom’s cat-and-mouse game with Angela carries much more psychological weight than physical.
Don’t get me wrong: there are some great scenes of physical violence involved, most notably when Tom decides to off Angela’s boss in a pretty horrific way, an entirely unexpected bloodbath in what has, up to now, been relatively nonviolent. It’s a welcome scene, ratcheting up the tension and stakes to show that Angela is not facing a harmless, if psychopathic, tormentor. Unfortunately, it is after this scene that the film suffers a bit from what amounts to a forty minute chase scene through the parking garage, Tom endlessly pursuing Angela through the twists and turns of the subterranean labyrinth.
The small location is both a blessing and a curse for the film; in lesser hands, it probably would’ve been entirely a curse. While it’s not a unique plot, having a two-person chase through a relatively common location for most of the film, Khalfoun elevates the situation into being a bit scarier than it really should be. The shocking gore, while not unexpected from Aja, serves to jolt the audience out of its comfort zone, taking a plot that otherwise would easily fit into Lifetime’s programming and pushing it into the realm of disturbing horror. The film is absolutely a Christmas horror movie, but it also doesn’t really need to be, and even though Thomas has invited Angela to share Christmas dinner in his sad little security guard office, it might as well be a standard post-work nosh for all that Christmas adds to the rest of the runtime.
All in all, the film is definitely worth a watch. It’s a relatively realistic look into the lives of people who know everything about us, whether we notice them or not. It doesn’t break any new ground, and you’re not going to find it to be a life-changing film, but at the very least you owe it to Alexandra Aja for bringing High Tension and Mirrors into the world. And I liked Crawl too, so there’s that. Director Franck Khalfoun proves himself to be a capable director, allowing him to lean into his strengths of displaying psychotic characters that he would fully flesh out in Elijah Wood’s character in Maniac. It’s tamer than it perhaps should have been but more violent than you would expect a movie largely consisting of two actors chasing each other through a parking lot would be. And, again, it’s peripheral connection to Christmas makes this a great time of year to check it out. It’s streaming free on Tubi, so, if you think about it, you can’t afford not to watch it.
Who this movie is for: Chase enthusiasts, Thriller movie fans, Auto mechanics
Bottom line: It’s hard to call the film taut because of the dragging first half of the final act, but other than that section of the movie it really is a rather taut thriller. It works well as a thriller and less as a horror, but the shocking scenes of violence elevate it well into the realm of scary movie territory. While it isn’t a movie that you’ll need to revisit particularly often, it is a pretty effective, single-location film that works well for what it is, and it may be one that’s worth adding to your holiday rotation as long as you don’t pay attention too much to the lack of Christmas in the plot. Decent flick overall, and if you’re an Aja fan, it’s definitely worth checking out, even if it doesn’t rise to his usual level of blood and guts. Forewarning, though: you might want to check out doesthedogdie.com if you’re pet-squeamish