P2 is another example of the bait-and-switch technique by which successful horror directors try and use their name as a brand to facilitate side-projects, in this case, a generic woman-in-peril melodrama set in a deserted parking garage on Christmas Eve.
After Switchblade Romance and his The Hills Have Eyes remake, Alexandre Aja serves here as producer and co-writer, but not director, with first timer Franck Khalfoun orchestrating the race and chase action as office-girl Angela (Rachel Nichols) gets taken hostage by garage maintenance man Thomas (Wes Bentley). After an abortive attempt to seduce her over Christmas dinner, Angela escapes to take part in a series of played-out Panic Room-style stand-offs, most of which (lifts filling with water, office-chair manglings) are well-enough achieved even if they function as little more than padding.
P2 certainly looks muscular; Aja’s regular cinematographer Maxime Alexandre gives the airless underground setting a distinctive dark sheen, but the underlying message (that ugly people wait round every corner to prey on the beautiful) leaves little room for plot twists. In the most substantial role he’s had since American Beauty, Bentley redeems the film’s clichés with a decent pass at a deranged captor, injecting just enough humanity to give P2 a jagged sexual edge that the played-out action doesn’t really deserve.
General release from Fri 2 May.