The best horrors exploit limited space, in both senses of the term in Alien, but also coeds confined to their sorority house in Black Christmas, spelunkers in The Descent or the protagonist in P2, stuck in an underground parking garage on Christmas Eve.
Directed by Franck Khalfoun — the Frenchman responsible for moving the singular slasher Maniac to the other coast in one of the dozen plus or so remakes that actually honour the spirit of the original — P2 exploits twin fears: being abandoned and stuck in a subterranean hell.
Rachel Nichols plays Angela, who finds herself toiling in her midtown Manhattan office tower and burning the candle at both ends. When she has car trouble, the building security guard, Thomas, doubles as a Good Samaritan with jumper cables. Unfortunately, he has ulterior motives conjuring up the Jimmy Carr zinger, “does this rag smell like chloroform to you?”
When Angela comes to she’s dressed not exactly in her Sunday best, complete with lipstick smear and low cut top, and Thomas has dinner plans for her. No, not that kind. He’s got a microwavable Christmas repast and a captive, if not receptive, audience.
And it turns out he has plans beyond a festive dinner, and that involve putting Angela in an uncomfortable bind and terrible moral predicament, which we won’t spoil.
P2 is simple, straightforward, bare bones horror.
There’s no stupid exposition, no extraneous characters, people act as they should when put in mortal danger, and Khalfoun makes the utmost of an inherently creepy locale, one that frequently has women clutching their keys for a pre-emptive strike.
He also amps up the claustrophobia with a tense elevator scene, dialing up the tension to penthouse levels. Plus, there’s a nice bit of surveillance/privacy invasion horror to exploit yet another fear.
P2 is produced and co-written by Alexandre Aja, who knows a thing or two about horror himself, the mastermind behind the excellent Haute Tension and better than it should be, animal run amok flick, Crawl (not to mention, speaking of quality remakes, his inspired take on The Hills Have Eyes).
And the Parisian collab of P2 reveals quality.
**** (out of 5)