Directed by Franck Khalfoun and written by Grégory Levasseur and Alexandre Aja ("The Hills Have Eyes" remake), "P2" is a rather decent little thriller/horror picture that works - up to a point. The film opens with a quiet stretch that still manages to generate a sense of dread. The picture opens with Angela (Rachel Nichols) working late at work in an NYC office tower. The building is about to be closed for the holiday weekend, and she quickly finds out that she's stuck - her car won't start and the parking attendant (Wes Bentley) can't seem to get it started. When she tries to get out from the front door, they're locked.
Wandering back down to the garage level, the lights are turned off before she's grabbed. It is, of course, Creepy Parking Guy, who wanted her to have dinner with him before and - when she wakes up - she's chained to the dinner table. She quickly finds that he's been obsessed with her, and has been watching her for some time.
The picture really doesn't have much of a plot at all, and consists mostly of a cat-and-mouse game between the two characters throughout the dark, multi-level structure. Still, despite the lack of story, the filmmakers certainly mine the tension of the dim lot, only lit by the occasional flickering light.
The acting, on the other hand, isn't quite up to par. While Nichols seems to have been chosen for reasons other than her acting, she does manage to offer up a reasonably engaging portrayal of the usual damsel-in-distress. Bentley, on the other hand, falls short of being convincing as her tormentor. There's a few other slight characters, but these two are really the only people on-screen for the majority of the running time.
"P2" isn't particularly scary (it even uses the barking dog surprise on a bunch of occasions), but I will say it was at least moderately tense throughout much of the movie. A few minutes here-and-there could have been dropped to bring the picture in at an even 90 minutes, but as is it never drags much. Overall, this a pretty straightforward, average thriller that has its moments.
VIDEO: "P2" is presented by Summit Entertainment in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is generally a very good effort from the studio, as the transfer looked mostly quite respectable. Despite quite a few very dark or dimly-lit sequences, the picture remained crisp and well-defined throughout much of the running time. A few minor instances of artifacting are spotted, but the picture otherwise appears clean and clear, with no edge enhancement or other issues spotted. The film's setting means the film isn't exactly colorful, but what few brighter colors there are looked spot-on.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack isn't particularly aggressive, but it works well, as it does deliver the kind of eerie ambience that one would expect from the largely empty structure. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue and sound effects.
EXTRAS: A commentary from the director and writers, as well as a standard EPK-style "making of" featurette, a look at the film's director and another featurette on creating the film's visual look. The extras section ends with a pair of trailers - one for "P2", the other for "Never Back Down".
Final Thoughts: Overall, "P2" is a pretty straightforward, average thriller that has its moments - it's one of those movies that defines a rental. The DVD presentation offers very good audio/video quality, as well as a decent set of supplements. Rent it.
The Film B-