Sunday, April 13, 2008

P2 (2007)

I always knew that Ricky Fitts (Wes Bentley) would turn out no good. He was a fucking sociopath as a teenager and, as evidenced by this picture, he's a sociopath as an adult. Speaking of American Beauty, what a load of fucking horse shit that movie was, huh? How in god's name did that thing manage to snag the best picture oscar at the 2000 Academy Awards? The award was later officially rendered meaningless when Crash won a few years back. American Beauty is about as pretentious as they come. The character of Ricky Fitts is the main reason why. Sure, neither Spacey nor Benning (although both gave it their all) come across as anything closely resembling human beings, but Fitts, in a strange way, does (think Henry from Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer before he ran away from home and started killing women and stuffing their dismembered corpses in suitcases). Like I said, he's a sociopath. He has no friends (I suppose I can forgive him for that), no real hobbies (beyond voyeurism and drug dealing), and certainly no soul. He finds beauty in everything (give me a fucking break) especially the bone and brain splattered wall behind Kevin Spacey's obliterated head. I'm not sorry for the spoiler. I really could fucking care less. Based on the way Fitts stared longingly at Spacey's pulverized face I was 99% sure he was going to start licking the exit wound. This is a kid we're supposed to relate to, to understand, to envy? He has no appreciation of the arts (he pretends to like one movie, The Re-animator, but instead uses it as a euphemism for getting high). He certainly doesn't love Thora Birch. I'm pretty sure, after fleeing to New York City, he tired of her company and decided he wanted to know what she looked like without her fucking head or something. Then he dumped her torso in the East River (after stuffing it in a suitcase?). Sam Mendes, the director of Beauty wanted the audience to root for this guy. Like he's something special. He was the hero of the picture. The only character from the piece of excrement that even deserves to live here on this earth amongst us real humans was Suvari's Angela Hayes. Yet, we're supposed to pity her (and be disgusted by her) for, of all things, acting the way a typical teenager is supposed to act. Sure, she's a little bit shallow. Big deal. What teenage girl isn't? She's the only one that saw Ricky Fitts for what he truly was. "A Weirdo." Fuck that movie.

Well guess what? The creators of P2 saw Ricky Fitts for exactly what he was and so they cast Wes Bentley in a role that completely suits him. They put him in a picture he belongs in, not some fucking pathetic wannabe art film. An honest to god genre film that knows exactly what it is, a gory (albeit, only in one or two scenes) horror picture. I guarantee that Frank Khalfoun (the director) and Alexandre Aja (producer of this & director of some pretty good genre films in his own right; High Tension and The Hills Have Eyes remake) had Ricky Fitts in mind when they cast this film. I also guarantee that they consider American Beauty to be absolute garbage. I don't know. Maybe I'm wrong here, but I like to think that's the case. Believing this enhanced my viewing of P2, which, as it turns out, is a little nasty mother fucker.

It's Christmas Eve and Angela Bridges (Rachel Nichols) is working late at her Manhattan office. Her Christmas party just ended and she decided to tidy up some loose ends before heading to New Jersey to celebrate the holiday with her family. The party was a good time until one of her male co-workers relentlessly hit on her in the elevator. She fended him off and he later apologized, so all is well on that front. Her co-workers slowly file out and before long, the building is empty (except for her and Karl, the doorman). She heads down to the garage, level P2, to retrieve her car and head out for the night. One problem. The car won't start. So, who should show up but none other than Ricky "fucking" Fitts (actually, he's changed his name to Thomas. Clearly, he's in hiding), the parking attendant. At first, Thomas seems very friendly, if a bit off. He offers to give her a jump and, when that doesn't work, tells her "I prepared a small Christmas meal for myself. You could join me if you want." Thomas (or Fitts, whatever he calls himself these days) certainly hasn't lost his love for voyeurism. After Angela rejects him, she heads back up to the lobby to call a cab. We watch her through security cams as she impatiently waits for it to arrive. Only, when the cab arrives, she's locked in. She runs back down to the garage to try to find a different way out, but the gates below are locked as well. The cab takes off. The lights go out. The nightmare begins.

This is a gruesome little picture. Thomas chloroforms Angela and drags her back to his office. She wakes up, chained to a table and there's Thomas, dressed as good ol' Saint Nick. His vicious dog Rocky waits patiently in the corner. Through it all, Thomas seems calm and friendly, rarely losing his cool. He's clearly deranged. They forgot to include the dinner scene in the first Chainsaw remake and this is probably as close as we're ever going to get. Much of the picture involves Anglea escaping, running, hiding, getting caught again, escaping, hiding some more, caught again, etc. I was a little surprised when Thomas divulged the book he's currently reading. The Sun Also Rises; "It's about a guy who loves a girl so much, he's willing to forgive everything about her, including her infidelities." It probably wasn't wise for Angela to let him know about her boyfriend who is "probably on his way right now."

At this point, you're probably a bit confused. I mean, there's only two characters, right? Where's all the fucking gore? Wait for it. Thomas and Angela leave level P2 (I'm pretty sure that's where the title comes from) and head on down to P4, where Angela's drunken co-worker (elevator perv) awaits gagged and bound to a chair, set up in the center of a parking space. Thomas uses him to do his best Pollock impersonation with a car as his brush (apparently, since moving to NYC he's begun to appreciate the arts a little more). There are only a couple of deaths in this picture, but they're brutal and bloody as hell. Alas, poor Rocky. Of course, the poor mistreated animal doesn't make it, but did its demise have to look and sound so painful? Like all Aja films, the sound guys working on this thing do tremendous work. I liked the score as well and especially, the use of Elvis' 'Blue Christmas'.

The movie has a wickedly dark sense of humor as well. While standing over the puddle that used to be Angela's co-worker, Thomas asks his remains, "why did you have to ruin Christmas?!". This line is used once more after flooding Angela out of an elevator (a fun set piece). The unfortunate recipient of his words, this time, is the doorman, Karl, also dead ("Way to ruin Christmas, Karl").

So, here we have another film that completely flew under everyone's radar. I remember seeing a trailor, but it was so poorly made that I had no desire to see it and completely put it out of mind. The filmmakers made good use out of the location to create a sense of isolation (a challenge to pull off in a film set in NYC), although Scorsese's After Hours, will never be topped in those regards (by the way, is that the scariest "comedy" ever made or what?). Help is so close and yet, always just barely out of reach. There are several tense scenes where Angela tries desperately to obtain a signal for her cell phone, call out for help, struggle her way through a locked gate, while Thomas' voice echoes throughout the cavernous underground. The film's end evoke's The Hills Have Eyes (both editions) where the tables are suddenly turned and we finally get to see that little bitch Fitts (or Thomas, fuck it I don't care) for what he really is. A cowardly pissant, so disconnected from reality that, towards the end, after he and Angela have a high speed car chase (in the fucking garage!) he calmly asked her "you're trying to get me fired, aren't you?" Then he called her the C-word. Big no-no, you douche. Finally, they put this asshole in a picture where he belongs. You know what? Surprisingly, it's not too fucking bad.

Ok, enough with this quality bullshit. I think a little film called Three on a Meathook is calling me. Or, perhaps, TCM: The Beginning? What do you think?


Sam Mendes said...

Why you little maggot! I am going to fuck you up. Your blog sucks.

Sam said...

Hear hear about "American Beauty"--sorry, Mendes, your flick was a pompous faux-philosophical load of crap. One of my favorite things to do used to be to ask people if they wanted to see the most beautiful thing in the world--when they say yes, you wave a plastic bag around.

Geez, how could anyone not hate that movie for that scene alone.

brian said...

Thanks Sam. I think you showed much improvement with Jarhead & Road to Perdition. Still, you know what I like best about you?

Kate Winslet.

elmo said...

I encountered P2 on Netflix- ended up choosing "Severence" instead.

elmo said...

The first block of text for this review is, I think, the best thing you've ever written.

brian said...

Thanks Elmo, I had a lot of fun writing that section.

by the way guys, I'm completely open to criticism. If an part of my reviews suck (i.e. too much regurgitating of plot?, etc) let me know). Thanks!

brian said...

Also, I liked Severance, but didn't love it. What did you think? It had a lot of great moments (bear trap, shooting down the airliner, etc), but just didnt' add up.

elmo said...

Severence seemed to want it all: dry wit, evil deadish slapstick, great gore and (for fuck's sake)that we care about the characters. It was a bit much. When the guy fell after her through the floor and then fell through another floor was the only scene that, for me, had it's own life. And COME ON! In a decrepit cabin they could have had so much energetic smashing and bashing happening. But all we get is that stupid guy's gut-shot and the girl who cries for him.