So, I’ll start off this review by admitting that I may be a little biased. I think P2 is one of the best horror movies to come out in the last 5 years and I realize that may be a ballsy statement. But, lucky for me, fellow P2 lovers, and Shitmas 2012 this awesome movie takes place during Christmas making it a member of that all too rare Horror Christmas subgenre. It’s actually the only one I can honestly say I revisit every December and have been since it came out on DVD. For everyone else reading this that doesn’t think P2 and that lovable psycho Tom is as awesome as me – bare with me, bottle your hatin’ and try to see it through my eyes.
The movie opens up using one of my favorite tricks – showing a bit of an intense scene that is to come later and than backtracking to show how we got to that moment. Great use of Santa Baby too by the way – a trend that is continued throughout this movie. They only really use a couple of Christmas songs, but they use them expertly.
Angela (Rachel Nichols) is working hard on Christmas Eve. A little too hard or that is the vibe we get by her constant phone calls to her family who are anxiously waiting for her in Jersey. Angela assures them that she will be leaving as soon as possible and not to worry. The only real information we get in this opening scene is that Angela is a girl who apparently doesn’t make enough time for herself and comes off as somewhat vulnerable, a trait that is confirmed when one of her co-workers enters her office and apologizes for an apparent indiscretion he tried on her in the elevator. Angela is very gracious despite the circumstances and accepts his apology. Fast forward to a bit later when Angela is finally able to start heading home. She has a nice little chat with Carl the security guard in the elevator on her way down to the parking garage – basically just showcasing how friendly and unassuming little Angela is.
Angela gets to her car in the lot and *gasp* it doesn't start. All of the elements of the genre are in play during this movie, but what is awesome is they use all of the tricks sparingly and smartly. We have not been introduced to any other characters yet so at this point we have no reason to think something is afoot. Angela, looking for help, finds Tom the lowly parking attendant. Right off the bat Wes Bentley’s Tom is all socially awkward, but incredibly sweet. He offers to help try and jump Angela’s battery, but we get the vibe right away he’d also like to jump something else. For now, though, Tom is nothing but chivalrous. After the car won’t start we get a flash of where Tom’s personality can go when after Angela rushes him dismissively a bit too much he remarks “I was just trying to help.” He delivers the line so flatly, but you immediately sense the ominous undertone.
Angela calls a cab, and once again her escape is somehow thwarted – she cannot get outside to the cab because Carl the friendly security guard has disappeared and apparently the building’s doors are on lockdown. Since when can parking attendants control all the security for the building from their office? Back down to the garage she goes where the electricity is cut and while roaming through the darkness bitch gets chloroformed.
When she wakes up she finds herself chained to a table in Tom’s office all dolled up in a boob bursting dress. Seriously, how does her nips not slip once throughout this movie?
Tom proceeds to force his affections on her. He makes her call her family and lie about being sick, which she gets shit for. From this point on the movie is a repeated back and forth of who between Angela and Tom have the upper hand. Both get plenty beat up in the process. The brutality in this movie will surprise you. I remember when I saw it in the theater I could not believe how hard of an R it was. And I fucking love it for that. I have complete respect for any horror movie that comes out in this day and age that doesn't pull any punches. The gore in this movie is some of the most realistic I've ever seen. Specifically, it has the most realistic head wound I’d seen since The Talented Mr. Ripley.
This movie has a great setting, with minimal characters which makes for intense interactions. Tom is the perfect combination of awkwardness and brutality with a touch of pathos. My favorite scene in the movie involves a sexy Blue Christmas rendition perfectly juxtaposed with Angela finally snapping and deciding to fight back.
That’s right girl, your body is a temple. Let no man disrespect!
For a movie set in such a confined space it has everything - car chases involving some of the worst driving I’ve ever seen, explosions, animal cruelty, sexual harassment, awesome one-liners (“Way to ruin Christmas. Asshole”) a boy who just wants to be loved, a girl who learns to appreciate her life, and a harsh lesson on why 'cunt' can be considered the most offensive cuss word ever. By the end Angela is so fucking fed up - I always imagined she just walked right past the onslaught of emergency vehicles straight to Jersey on foot to tell her family that no, she in fact did not just selfishly stand them up that she actually spent the last several hours fighting for her life so Merry fucking Christmas to you too and stop giving me shit.
It is so rare that a horror movie can perfectly merge the gore and intensity with the cheesy and quirky. Wes Bentley's portrayal of Tom and P2 as a whole remain the new age poster child on how to do that right.
P.S. Franck Khalfoun is also the director behind the Maniac remake – another reason I’m excited for that!
Happy Holidays, yo!
Katherine - http://letterboxd.com/kazikate/