Review 3: P2 (3.5/5)

P2

Directed by Franck Khalfoun

Starring: Rachel Nichols, Wes Bentley

Released on November 9, 2007

Running time: 1h 38m

Rated R

Genre: Thriller, Horror

I was surprised when the only legitimate bone I had to pick with P2 was the casting of Wes Bentley. He is and always will be the weird Goth kid from Ghost Rider (which was a really silly movie).

Our leading lady, Angela (Rachel Nichols), is working late at her job (we’re never told what it is) on Christmas Eve. She tries to leave, but not only will her car not start, not only are the elevators locked and only open by a keycard, not only are the lobby doors locked, not only are the garage doors locked, but the security guard, Tom (Wes Bentley), is just too d@mn nice.

Not a good sign.

And this is where it gets slightly unnerving.

Tom drugs her with chloroform, knocking her out, and he drags her to his office on floor – this is my favorite, by the way – P2. OOOOOOOOOOOH!

Angela wakes up in Tom’s office with a candlelit dinner in front of her on a table. She is chained to it, and Tom is sitting across from her, dressed as Santa Claus. We learn, through Tom’s attempted small talk with Angela, that he is dangerously obsessed with her. He even shows her security camera footage of a drunken Jim (Simon Reynolds) sexually harassing her and makes it even worse by saying that Angela must teach herself to overcome her alleged promiscuity.

When Angela attempts to escape, Tom handcuffs her, forces her to get into his car, and drives her down to P4, where Jim himself is handcuffed to a chair. After beating him in gruesome fashion, Tom smashes Jim into the wall with his car, killing him, again in gruesome fashion. Tom claims that he’s trying to help Angela to not be a promiscuous slut. Angela escapes from Tom’s car and runs off into the garage.

From here, the movie turns into a surprisingly effective and discomforting game of cat and mouse, culminating in a surprisingly satisfying conclusion.

Rachel Nichols does quite a good job as a frightened, paranoid, but sexy Angela.

However, we have to deal with the surprisingly and laughably bad performance of Wes Bentley as Tom. I would have found it so much easier to take Tom seriously if Bentley had not been cast in the role. I don’t know who I could have recommended instead. While Bentley manages to do decently when he’s speaking normally and actually trying to sound nice, but when he’s angry, Bentley’s ineptitude rears its ugly head. Bentley “shows emotion” by … SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF HIS LUUUUUUUUUNGS! When Bentley does this, he ruins any sort of tension and suspense that the scene might have had. He, perhaps single-handedly, breaks the movie, perhaps being the main reason for P2’s low ratings (currently at 35% on Rotten Tomatoes and 37% on Metacritic).
However, disregarding Bentley’s performance, Tom is actually a surprisingly creepy pervert who’s willing to go to great lengths to be able to screw Angela. He even films footage of him feeling her up while she’s unconscious. He even successfully manages to create just enough tension to create a nagging sense of discomfort even when he’s offscreen. I was pleasantly surprised by this. No, more than surprised. I was amazed.

Here’s an idea: Remake this, and avoid Wes Bentley at all costs. Make it a little more scary, increase the tension, and I think you might have a surprisingly effective horror movie.

But here’s one more thing: I look forward to seeing Franck Khalfoun direct Amityville: The Reawakening.

I think he’ll do pretty well.

Just…don’t rely on Wes Bentley for a damn thing.

Final Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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