P2, the latest gut-burbler from the guys behind High Tension and the revamped The Hills Have Eyes, doesn't exactly advance the tormented-woman/torture-porn genre–think Red Eye with twice the gore and triple the dumb–but some above-the-call performances and a nifty use of its setting make this two-hander a genuinely creepy diversion.
Director Franck Khalfoun's premise (concocted with producers Gregory Levasseur and Alexandre Aja) hits the ground rolling, as a relationship-fearing workaholic (Rachel Nichols) burns the midnight oil in a deserted office building on Christmas Eve. When she attempts to get her car out of the building's cavernous parking area, she discovers that the lot's bug-eyed, Elvis-worshipping security guard (Wes Bentley) has designs on keeping her around for the holidays and beyond. The plot may actually be thinner than I've described, but the first-time director keeps things moving pretty briskly, with a number of well-choreographed jump scares (watch out for the dog), some arresting low-light camerawork, and a general old-school grindhouse ambiance. Save for an early bit involving a cell phone (do they ever work in horror films?), there's nothing here that wouldnít feel out of place in the bottom half of a '70s drive-in double feature.
The cast helps things out considerably. Nichols, late of Alias, wavers believably between totally freaked and righteously wrathful, while Bentley's Taser-wielding lonelyheart manages to shift between laughable, psycho, and strangely affecting, sometimes in a single scene. Your mileage may vary, depending on your general tolerance for B-picture skuzz, but taken as a whole (and despite the awful title), P2 makes for more than serviceable, no-frills exploitation fare. And then you drive home and forget it.