Wednesday, July 19, 2017

P2




 ***

Although a flop during its initial release and suffered critical indifference, I quite like P2 (2007). Directed by Franck Khalfoun—I really, really liked his own vision of Maniac (2012)—if it suffers from anything it is familiarity in how it operates. But there is a fanbase out there that likes this kind of formula. Maybe it is because there aren’t enough victims. Perhaps if the film had provided extra bodies for Bentley to bludgeon and run over with a car, P2 might have been received better. Whatever the case, I thought Bentley was fun to watch and Nichols—the heart murmurs—gets to work opposite him, alternating from scared to defiant, on the defensive to on the offensive, from victim to victor. Set during Christmas, in a “night of hell” scenario, Nichols just wants to go home. Unfortunately for her, fucking lunatic Wes Bentley is obsessed with her, always watching her on his cameras as she works in the building he is employed as a security guard in the parking garage. Yes, that’s the irony of this film: assigned to protect those in the building, Bentley is the threat instead. Spying on her in monitors, he develops a fixation, believing she could very well be the right Christmas companion for him. He even believes killing a co-worker drunkenly sexually harassing her would be further reason for her to accept him as that companion. She was chloroformed by Bentley who dresses her in red lipstick and a gown that fits tightly on her breasts.

 On this gown for a minute. I want to address the obvious elephant in the room. Those boobs. I’m sorry but if you dress someone as attractive as Nichols in that gown which fits on her breasts so tightly that it teases us into thinking they could pop out, what are we supposed to do?

Oh I paid attention to her performance. I think she was very good. She wasn’t just a damsel in distress. No, sir. She had to deal with handcuffs, a dangerous dog, Bentley’s taser, camera monitors, water flooding from a hose in an elevator, repeated vehicular damage to a co-worker, escaping from the trunk of a car, Bentley’s Elvis musical interlude, Bentley’s romantic tactics, and the inability to contact police officers who were canvassing the parking garage because she was “disposed of” (aforementioned trunk trap). Wet, dirty (hiding places like under a car, in crawlspaces, against concrete walls, etc), cold, and seemingly on her own, Nichols must endure a lot more than just Bentley’s crazy behavior and shenanigans. Worst mistake he made besides tormenting her and killing the kindly security guard, Karl? Calling her a cunt.

Great visual with her holding an ax and tearing up those cameras. Her anxiety and despair while crouched in the elevator, beating open the trunk door of the car holding her, lying under a car as Bentley stabbed tires (trying to trap her), or behind whatever wall in the shadows; Nichols might have to gather her wits but she doesn’t stop trying to get out of that fucking parking garage.

Alexandre Aja, Franck Khalfoun, and Grégory Levasseur can’t win any honors for scripting a film that invents new ideas but they understand how building suspense works. Even as I was rather convinced Nichols would persevere, the film does place her in enough perilous situations to keep the attention from dissipating. And the two stars have the kinds of performances to keep you from nodding off or just falling prey to apathy.

Does P2 have the kind of plot or results unpredictable and audacious enough to shake the viewer into restless sleep after it’s over? Not at all. It wasn’t like when you watched the ending credits of their remake of The Hills Have Eyes (2006) roll and took a breath, realizing the visceral effects of the film still weighed a bit.

Besides a body being pummeled by the nose of a car until it was mashed and mangled mush, Bentley stabbed in the eye, and a body set on fire, P2 doesn’t go for the graphic jolts that those associating the writers/producers/director with it might have anticipated. That could be another reason P2 doesn’t impress. This is more about the chase and capture/ run and outwit than non-stop brutalization. But back to Nichols for a moment. I can’t imagine that her body in that gown, with the fitted bosom, wasn’t meant to test our resolve. It is hard not to be aware of just how lovely she is. And that she is far more than nice breasts…heavy breathing furthering the tease. She endures and keeps going. She’ll be damned if that fucker gets the better of her. And that dog turned loose... Bentley picked the wrong night to sic it on a would-be victim. Especially if that would-be victim has a crowbar and will to live.












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