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Street Parking is Advised

Holidays are painful and scary enough as it is without being trapped in a parking garage run by a psychotic security guard. Leave it to the twisted, French horror director Alexandre Aja (High Tension) to trump garden variety holiday horrors with his latest parking garage headtrip, P2.

Rachel Nichols plays the beleaguered damsel in distress, Angela. Buried in paperwork, deadlines, and general corporate bullshit on Christmas Eve, a crappy evening gets that much worse for Angela as she heads to the parking garage (her car is located on "P2"). Most people have already hit the road embarking on their stress filled holiday. Needless to say, Angela’s going to be waylaid a bit longer.

Enter the soothing yet vaguely creepy, Tom (Wes Bentley). A seeming good Samaritan, Tom tries to help Angela jumpstart her gleaming BMW when the typically reliable ride fails to turnover (conveniently). Bentley was unquestionably the best choice for this role. The actor always had a weird air about him that was perhaps best illustrated in his standout (but bizarre) turn as Ricky in American Beauty. Well, Bentley’s turn in this one smells of Anthony Perkin’s Norman Bates in Psycho.

Bentley has a way of making even the simplest gesture seem odd and uncomfortable. You’re wary of Tom from the word go and his pronounced awkwardness and strange comments quickly involve into frighteningly psychotic behavior that leaves you in a constant state of heightened tension.

Despite Tom’s amorous advances (locking Angela to a chair is one such advance), Angela’s just not that into him and makes strenuous attempts to end their "date" prematurely. Naturally, Tom’s got her cornered as he controls all the gates, the cameras, and any chance of communicating with the outside world locked up tightly.

P2 is a great premise (and admittedly a bit "unique" in its setting), but the film falls short of becoming a truly horrifying classic. It starts with a lack of understanding about why Tom would be coming after Angela. Yes, she’s blonde, beautiful, and buxom, but Tom’s made out to be a pretty warped character and it’s hard to believe that he’d fixate out on just some random blonde woman. You kind of hoped Tom would have a backstory along the lines of something from Silence of the Lambs. No such luck.

Angela’s got a slightly better backstory. She’s an overworked lawyer who’s got a family that loves her and wants to see her during the holidays.’s not much, but it’s something. Tom’s the most interesting character and we learn little about him aside from the fact that he has an Elvis fetish and he’s lonely.

Rounding things out is a level of predictability of how most of Angela’s conundrums play out. Yes, she’s put in some tough spots, but there are almost invariably a plethora of other ways she could have ended this torment earlier that she somehow conveniently fails to notice. P2’s worth parking your car in, but not for much longer than the runtime of the film.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars