With Christmas still a couple days away, there’s plenty of time to celebrate the season with another holiday themed horror movie.
And, for your next film, I recommend the 2007 thriller, ‘P2,’ starring Rachel Nichols and Wes Bentley. The story follows Angela (Rachel Nichols) as she is trapped in an underground parking garage on Christmas Eve while being pursued by Thomas (Wes Bentley), a psychopathic security guard.
The movie opens on a lone car in a parking garage and we get the reveal that someone is locked inside the trunk.
Following this cold open, we are introduced to Angela, who’s working late on Christmas Eve. When she attempts to leave for a family Christmas party, she discovers that her car won’t start – the same car from the opening.
After discovering she can’t get back in the building, she goes to the security office where she meets Security Guard Thomas and his pet rottweiler, Rocky. After failing to help her, Thomas tries to invite Angela to spend Christmas with him instead, but she rejects his offer.
Angela calls for a cab and, when it arrives, she discovers that the doors to the building are locked and she’s trapped inside. In an attempt to get out of the building, she returns to the security office to look for Thomas.
While attempting to find Thomas, the lights in the parking garage start to go out and, while stumbling in the dark, she is ambushed by Thomas and wakes up handcuffed and chained to a chair. Upon regaining her senses, she discovers that Thomas has set up a Christmas dinner for the two of them.
Here, the movie really starts to lay the groundwork for a look into the warped mind of Thomas.
Angela attempts to lie to Thomas that her boyfriend will be coming to look for her, but he calls her bluff. Making certain no one will be looking for her, he has Angela call her sister’s place and tell her family that she is sick and will not be making it to the party after all.
This first act does a good job of setting up the film and our two leads, especially Wes Bentley, who really shines as the deranged Thomas. The highlight was having Angela call and establish an alibi for her whereabouts. I thought this little detail was ingenious, as it’s so often never explained why no one ever comes looking for somebody when they’re missing in a horror movie.
The second act of the film is a cat and mouse game between our two leads.
As a Christmas present, Thomas takes Angela down to a lower level and reveals that he has the co-worker who groped her at the office Christmas party tied to a chair. Thomas kills the man and, during the chaos, Angela is able to escape.
Angela is able to retrieve her cellphone but can’t get a signal to call 9-1-1. After losing her phone, she uses Thomas’ key card to get into the elevator. Angela attempts to survive the night locked in the elevator but has to abandon her plan after Thomas floods the elevator with a fire hose.
Back out in the parking garage, Angela realizes that Thomas has been watching her every move through the security cameras. In response, she grabs a fire axe and starts to destroy the cameras. She then attempts to confront Thomas with the axe, but he is able to distract her and subdue her with a taser.
Two police officers then arrive at the parking garage in response to a reported disturbance. It’s revealed that Thomas has stashed Angela in the trunk of her car (bringing us back to the opening scene).
This second act was a breath of fresh air, as Angela made smart decision after smart decision – a nice break from your stereotypical horror movie character. She never runs down a dark hallway or goes to investigate a sound; every move she makes is believable and demonstrates that she is capable of rational thought.
The stand-out for me was, of course, when she gets the fire axe and starts knocking out the security cameras. But an honourable mention goes to when she dumped her heels when forced to run. How many times have we seen somebody trip in heels?
The start of the third act brings us back to the beginning as we see Angela breaking out of her trunk.
She runs to try and get the attention of the police but is unable to make it in time before they leave.
Thomas releases Rocky after Angela, but Angela is able to kill the dog with the tire iron she used to break out of her trunk. Next, she breaks into the car rental company in the parking garage and attempts to drive a car through the locked gate.
Thomas is able to side swipe Angela’s car before she can break down the gate. The two play a game of chicken and Angela’s car gets flipped over after she loses control of her vehicle.
Thomas goes to investigate the crash and is stabbed in the eye by Angela. After choking him with her handcuffs, she uncuffs herself and in one of the most unheard of moves in a horror movie, has the sense to cuff Thomas to the car door.
While walking away from Thomas (not as smart), Angela decides to turn back after he calls her a “cunt.” Using his taser, she ignites the gasoline that has spilled out of the damaged vehicle causing Thomas to be engulfed in flames.
Angela opens the gate and limps out into the snowy Manhattan streets as fire trucks approach.
As the screen cuts to black a voice over can be heard asking, “You alright lady?”
Overall ‘P2’ was smart and well written and so much attention was given to detail.
With many horror movies, it can be easy to become infuriated with the lack of sense the main character displays throughout the film but, as established, you don’t feel this way in the case of Angela.
The real highlight of the movie was the performance given by Wes Bentley as Thomas. His performance was unnerving and his ability to switch between crazy and calm in a scene made you feel like you never knew what he was truly capable of.
The only issue with this film is the one plaguing most thriller films: it’s not one you can watch multiple times, as the suspense factor is gone. This is a film that is best suited as a once-a-year watch and is one that should be added to your yearly holiday watch list.