Monday, November 19, 2007

High Tension Masterminds Deliver Again With P2


P2, the newest film from HIGH TENSION masterminds Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur, is one of the most effective thrillers of the season, and should be doing a lot better than it is. Helmed by first time director Franck Khalfourn, "Jimmy" in HIGH TENSION, P2 benefits greatly from a Christmas setting, a very strong performance by Rachel Nichols, and a refreshingly logical narrative that is believable as well as scary.
The film's story is simple. A young businesswoman is trapped in a deserted car garage on Christmas Eve with a lonely and psychotic night watchman, and she struggles to find a way out. It is the kind of story that has been told a countless number of times, but P2 manages to stay fresh throughout its 100 minute running time.
Reportedly shot in a real Toronto parking garage, P2 has an intense claustrophobic feel that is helped greatly by Khalfourn's assured shooting style, and HIGH TENSION cinematographer Maxime Alexandre's great night time photography. P2 is literally one of the darkest films of the year but, unlike say last years THE DESCENT, it never grows tiring or feels forced. The frankly fantastic score by the always reliable tomandandy certainly helps the film as well and, like their work for Aja in THE HILLS HAVE EYES, the work by the great duo here punctuates the horror well with telegraphing it too much.

The best part of the film though is young Rachel Nichols performance. I had only seen this fine young actress in small roles in SHOPGIRL and THE AMITYVILLE HORROR remake before, so she is fairly new to me. Her work here has a ferocious physicality and intelligence to it. I never for one minute questioned her reasoning, which is rare in the typically logic lacking modern horror genre. It's a great, believably terrified and strong performance that is among the best of the year.

Unfortunately Nichols co-star Wes Bentley doesn't work as well. Bentley is a good actor, and I admired how he tried to keep his character as underplayed as possible, but finally he just isn't a very good bad guy. It is finally just the garage itself that is the most terrifying villain in the film, as Nichols struggles in scene after scene trying to figure a way out.
The film isn't perfect and, outside of Bentley's lackluster performance, it gets derailed in a couple of sections by a couple of out of place scenes and pacing problems. One section in particular, that would have been ideal for the DVD's deleted scenes section, has Bentley lip-synching Elvis Presley's BLUE CHRISTMAS and it just doesn't work.
P2 isn't anywhere near as resonate as Aja's HIGH TENSION or HILLS HAVE EYES remake, but it is a really effective little thriller that I have had a hard time shaking since I saw it over the weekend. I especially liked the final image of the film, which is simultaneously one of the most beautiful and haunting shots of the year.
The film is currently seriously struggling at the box office which is a shame, as it is a splendid film to watch on the big screen. From Rachel Nichols impressive physical presence, to tomandanady's exciting score, P2 is an ideal horror thriller for the holiday season. Shame it will probably be gone before December even arrives.

6 comments:

DirtyRobot said...

It's true, this was shot in Toronto at the Village by the Grange parking lot!

Jeremy Richey said...

That is really cool...the real location helped it out greatly I thought...

Rogue Spy 007 said...

Thanks for the review. I've wanted to see this film. It's a shame it's not doing that well. I'm a big fan of Aja's other work. I'll definitely have to check it out.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Keith...I think you will really enjoy it, and I promise you will love Rachel in it...thanks for the comments

colinrudge0380 said...

I'm quite looking forward to this so thank you for this review to keep my interest up! Have you seen The Rules of Attraction? That was the film in where I think tomandandy's music worked fantastically well.

I have picked up Aja's remake of The Hills Have Eyes, but unfortunately it is still in my 'to watch' pile (which I have just added Hostel and Hostel 2 to thanks to your reviews, one of the few positive ones I've heard of Eli Roth's film)

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Colin,
I hope you enjoy those films...I like Aja a lot and I thought P2 was an effective little thriller...
I really like Rules Of Attraction and agree abouyt their score...my favorite one they have done though is their masterful unreleased on cd score to Keith Gordon's Waking The Dead with Jennifer Connelly...it's a really wonderful film and their music is really special...thanks again...