Friday, September 30, 2011

REVIEW: P2 (2007)

This review is dedicated to the parking lot at the Citrus Club of Orlando Florida, which caused me so many grievances.

P2 is a movie that for some reason, people seem to think isn’t that bad. I mean, really? Have I stepped into some kind of alternate universe or something?

Director: Franck Khalfoun
Starring: Wes Bentley, Rachel Nichols

I couldn't fit it in in the information box above, but this was produced and written by Alexandre Aja, who also gave us Mirrors. Dude, you made an awesome flick with High Tension. How do you continue giving us this low-rate slop?! It's seriously sad. TRY HARDER.

The movie begins with a cheap jump scare that actually flashes forward and shows us a random moment from an hour into the film. Is there a point to it? Nooooooo. Then we see our main character is a stuck-up blonde lady named Angela who works in some unspecified office doing some unspecified thing that I’m sure is important enough to ditch her family for. Will this isolated and friendless aspect of her character be elaborated on or made important later? Noooooooo.

Then we get those tired scenes in every lame horror movie where we’re introduced to the characters who will die later on for no story-purpose other than because they’re going to die later on. Isn’t that wonderful? In one corner, we’ve got generic businessman-guy in a suit who hit on the main girl while she was drunk! He comes into her office to apologize, but she’s rude and dismissive to him, so he leaves. Endeared to our main character yet? I am. In the other corner, we’ve got the Helpful Black Guy, a character type that peaked 25 years before this movie came out when Stanley Kubrick made The Shining.

And oh, hey, it’s that idiot from American Beauty! He’s playing the movie’s killer and delivers an over the top performance that isn’t funny enough to really leave an impression, nor scary enough to make any real tension either.

So she’s about to leave but then her car doesn’t work, so American Beauty-guy has to help her out, whines about how she isn’t thankful enough for stuff, and even asks her to come to eat dinner with him. Thinking his career went downhill when he appeared in Ghost Rider, Angela says no like any sane person would. She calls a taxi, but misses it and can’t get outside in the span of 2 seconds, so the taxi drives away! Excellent service, I say! I bet that guy gets all the tips.

And of course, like any good office building, there are no emergency escapes and no other ways out. This is all just a really contrived and silly set-up for her to go back down to the garage and get kidnapped by American Beauty-guy, whose real name is Thomas. You know, the funniest thing about this character to me is that it’s pretty much the exact same character as American Beauty, only a decade later. Like if the kid from that movie grew up and was just as screwed up as he was back then, only now with the burdens of a layman’s job on him to make him even crazier.

Frankly I think he's past his prime. After his big 'plastic bag in the wind' speech he pretty much went downhill...

She wakes up in a skimpy dress that pretty much reveals the only reason anyone would ever willingly watch this, her boobs. They’re constantly emphasized to look as big and round as possible, so you know the filmmakers had no actual ideas; they just resorted to the lowest common denominator. If you can’t have an interesting story or scary moments, just show some tits! That’s really about all you ever need to see in this movie. Everything else is just window-dressing.

The real star of the movie - her cleavage!

And why on Earth does Thomas dress up as Santa Clause when she first wakes up? Hur hur hur, he’s just that wacky I guess!

So they bore us some more with an overlong scene of him forcing her to sit down at dinner with him while he makes idle chitchat that’s about as endearing as a jackhammer to the head. Then he handcuffs her and takes her outside to murder that guy who hit on her while drunk at the Christmas party. She won’t do it, so he just goes and beats him up himself, and then rams him into the wall with his car a few times! And Angela is afraid of this guy? By golly I can’t see why! By the way, I love this dialogue here:

Thomas: You did fuck him, didn’t you? LIAR! (He says this right after he brutally murders a man…something doesn’t add up there…it’s like if Bernie Madoff got mad at someone for not giving him the correct change at the grocery store.)

Oh yeah, and he also screams at her uncontrollably and it becomes clear that he’s not mentally stable at all. I do love the extensive background checks this building does on its parking garage employees. I mean, the guy’s about as subtle as a glowing neon sign saying I’M TOTALLY NUTS!!! I really doubt he’s never had any kind of serious blemishes on his record before now. It’s just impossible.

And this whole thing is just contrived as hell. This plan could have gone wrong any number of ways. She could have actually left early to go see her family on Christmas eve. There could have been someone else working late. Someone could have come to visit her unexpectedly. Yeah, I know he apparently stalked her for months, but even then, it’s not like this guy is all-omniscient or anything. He couldn’t possibly have known for sure that he would get every little aspect of this plan working correctly. He's like the MacGuyver of contrived stalker plans.

Then we travel through horror cliche country! Like this dumb scene where of course she drops the phone right out of her reach, and then scrapes off a fingernail right after, resulting in some icky body-gore…that’s two dumb clichés in one! Seriously, why does every horror movie these days have scenes like these? It’s just dull writing and you know what’s going to happen anyway. She’s going to pick off her fingernail and it’s going to zoom in on the blood and the audience will be grossed out, and it’ll all be so boring I’d rather bash my head against a wall. And the cell phone thing? Seriously, you’re going with that? That’s so old it might as well be put in a museum of horror movie clichés.

And to add insult to injury, she tries calling out and screaming for help, but then an old crazy woman who happens to be walking by at the same time starts imitating her, ensuring nobody will listen. Gee, movie. Why don’t you just have somebody try and come save her, and then have a plane fall from the sky on top of them, right as they’re about to reach her? THAT’S ABOUT THE ONLY GODDAMN THING YOU DON’T DO!

So Thomas chases her around some more and she locks herself in an elevator. He responds to this quite normally, by filling it with water from a hose to try and drown her. He also throws the dead body of the helpful black security guard we saw for 2 seconds earlier in the movie into the elevator. And I guess we’re supposed to care? Yeah, so glad they didn’t show us his death! Great way to make the audience invested! Christ. This film constantly builds up scenes that could potentially be good, but keeps ruining them with poor set-ups, stupid dialogue and confused direction.

Somebody's all wet over this whole kidnapping thing...OK, horrible joke, but really what else do I have to work with?

Oh, and I just love this scene!

More of Thomas dancing to Elvis songs while watching Angela on the TV screens, please! Note the sarcasm. It’s just like the famous scenes of the Silence of the Lambs killer dancing in drag…except here it leaves no impact and is mostly just silly.

So she gets out and finds an ax, which she gets out of its glass case and starts smashing cameras with it. Great! Finally something smart! Maybe we’ll actually get some real conflict now that Angela is actually able to fight back! So what are you gonna do, movie? What’ll it be? This is your final chance.

Angela goes into the guard station where he was before, and doesn’t find him there. Instead, she finds a TV playing a videotape of him fondling her while she was unconscious from the beginning of the movie. Why? Did he just feel like jerking off to it and then decided to leave in the middle? Did he know she would come in and be distracted by it? Well, anyway, being the smart person that she is, Angela will ignore this and keep her guard up…

…OR she could smash the TV, scream, and then see some police coming in and get distracted! Thomas then comes in and tazes her until she faints. So she had an ax and STILL couldn’t do anything worthwhile? Come on! It was so easy! All she had to do was find him, hit him with the damn thing, steal his keys and go. This is just way, way too stupid, even for this movie! But hey, anything for a 90 minute runtime, right?!

SHE HAD AN AX! HOW HARD COULD IT BE?!? Aaaaaaarrrrrrrgggghhhh!

And then we get some dumb, long and drawn-out scenes of the cops moseying around and doing nothing – but they do have suspicious looks on their faces, so there is that! This movie has more padding than a pillow factory.

Angela kills Thomas’s dog as it tries to attack her, which prompts this golden line of dialogue:  “How could you kill a poor, defenseless animal? YOU’RE REALLY STARTING TO PISS ME OFF!” I know Thomas is crazy and everything, but this is just second-grade level writing. I seriously can’t tell whether this is supposed to be humorous or not. If it is, well shame on you for not making the rest of the movie as funny, Aja. If it isn't, well I can't say I'm surprised.

So then they chase each other around in cars for a while, they crash and Angela handcuffs Thomas to the car, intending to leave him there…until he calls her ‘cunt,’ and then she turns around and lights him on fire, killing him. Yup, after everything he did to her, she was ready to just let him live and possibly come back for an even worse sequel. But calling her a bad name? HOW RUDE! She walks out into an (admittedly nice) shot of snowy New York and we see exactly where this whole journey has led us…a blank, cold, foggy miasma of nothingness.

This was a hard one to review because there simply isn’t much to say about it. It’s not terribly made and the acting, while not great, isn’t exactly anything I can make fun of, either. The reason this movie doesn’t work is because it’s a poor premise in general, and is executed poorly. They had a limited number of things they could do with the shut-in setting and the very small number of characters, and so they ended up filling the movie with padding and scenes that just plod along with only the most minimal kind of impact. It’s filled with every poor cliché the genre ever had, scrapes the bottom of the barrel for even the most pandering jump scares out there and contains mostly nothing worth talking about. So yeah, next time you’re thinking of watching a horror movie…don’t pick this one. In fact, if this is your only option, just go read a book or something instead.

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