P2 (director/writer: Franck Khalfoun; screenwriters: Alexandra Aja/Gregory Levasseur; cinematographer: Maxime Alexandre; editor: Patrick McMahon; music: tomandandy; cast: Wes Bentley (Thomas), Rachel Nichols (Angela); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Alexandre Aja/Patrick Wachsberger/Erik Feig; Summit Entertainment; 2007)

"[A] film that would have been better served if released only as a DVD and not in theaters, or better yet not released at all."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Franck Khalfoun, in his debut as a director, gets stuck along with his cast of only a few in a drab and claustrophobic pic that's set entirely in a Manhattan underground parking garage during Christmas Eve (the modest budgeted film was shot in Toronto). A nutty Christmas flick played out as a modern-day urban nightmare film for career women who work late at night. It's a film that would have been better served if released only as a DVD and not in theaters, or better yet not released at all. Khalfoun co-writes this all too familiar 'damsel in distress' story with High Tension French director and co-producer Alexander Aja and Gregory Levasseur. It has the usual quota of scares mandated for such an exploitative film and shoots for ticklish ghoulish humor as its lifeline to success (unfortunately the audience laughed at all the wrong moments and not from enjoyment); it's done in by the slight plot line, the story's predictability, the acting being reduced to either the loud rantings from the heavy as a way of communicating terror or the heaving bosoms from the female victim as a way of communicating fear and, to boot, its ugly to watch its sadism unfold. 

Pretty young workaholic and ambitious career-orientated executive Angela (Rachel Nichols), dressed to kill for power points, has left her BMW for the day on the P2 parking level of her office buildings Park Avenue garage and is in trouble when her pricey car won't start and the creepy parking lot attendant Thomas (Wes Bentley), watching her intently on the hidden security cameras while on the graveyard shift, in an office building that went into the lock-down mode after-hours, turns out to be a lonely raving lunatic, obsessed with lip-synching over an Elvis Christmas tune and seeking Angela as company for his candlelight holiday meal in the security office. He knocks her out and chains the babe's legs to a chair in the guise of protecting her from a womanizing colleague who made a pass at her in the elevator after the office Christmas party. Tom shows his true homicidal maniac colors by torturing that guy and crushing him to death with one of the few remaining cars in the garage. After escaping, she's further let down by modern technology as her cellphone signals no service in this area. She's upset that she will be unable to go to her  sister's New Jersey house for a family Christmas celebration, and instead becomes preoccupied with trying to fend off and elude her dangerous sicko admirer who after knocking her out forced her to traipse around the garage in a slip (which should please most of the male viewers, since this vic is a good looker; a plain looking woman would probably not be suitable for such a demanding physical role). 

The film consists of many contrived shocking nasty twists and lots of blood and gore (also, hopefully without giving too much away about a plot point, it's not a film to recommend to dog lovers). It winds up in the usual way these mindless slasher films seem to always wind up--with the vulnerable woman vic turning the tables on her male tormentor at the climax after being set upon for most of the pic. You got me why folks continue to be entertained by such sleaze, but the film industry keeps cranking out such garbage as if the public has a morbid need to feel dirty. 

REVIEWED ON 11/10/2007        GRADE: C

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"