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Movie Review

Press 'P2' (if you must) for laughs - not chills

Rachel Nichols's character is tortured by a smitten parking attendant played by Wes Bentley. Rachel Nichols's character is tortured by a smitten parking attendant played by Wes Bentley. (STEVE WILKIE/SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT)
Email|Print| Text size + By Wesley Morris
Globe Staff / November 9, 2007

"P2" may sound a lot like a mountain. But it's actually the floor of a Park Avenue garage where young Angela (Rachel Nichols) has left her BMW for the day. It's Christmas Eve, and just before she can drive to her sister's, the car won't start. Now it seems she'll have to spend the night alone, running from Thomas (Wes Bentley) the psychotic security attendant on the graveyard shift.

Of course, she'll first have to remove the handcuffs and sit in the passenger seat while the attendant runs her co-worker into a wall again and again. No, "P2" is not a mountain. Quite the opposite: It's a 90-minute dip in some filmmakers' frightless cesspool (it took three men to whip up this torture fantasy). The movie peddles the timeless cliché of the imperiled chick shivering in wet clothes. When Angela tries to flee in an elevator, wearing a white evening dress, Thomas uses a fire hose to flood it. She's never dry again.

Another movie would have developed a psychological hook. "P2" illogically tacks one on: I see you all the time, and you totally ignore me. Now I have to torture you. Why? Duh. Because I love you. Oh, and don't try to humanize me by repeating my name, Angela. I'm a monster. Boooo. See? Why are you running away? Now I'll have to sic my Rottweiler on you. Would you like to see my Elvis impersonation? It's really wicked. While you bash out all the security cameras, I'm gonna swivel my hips to "Blue Christmas." Thank you. Thank you very much.

Amid the dumbness and disgust for paying customers, the movie does manage to cough up something I didn't expect: a performance so terrible you can't quite believe it's happening: Bentley's. He was the cute neighbor from "American Beauty" (the one who gave the plastic-bag speech, remember?). Here he plays the least convincing nutjob perhaps ever. When Thomas gets keyed up he screams like a man who's been stabbed in the back with a fork, which for some reason he fails to do when he's actually stabbed in the back with a fork. The night I saw it, that uncomfortableness of the laughter you sometimes get with a thriller was gone: The audience enjoyed laughing at him.

Wesley Morris can be reached at wmorris@globe.com. For more on movies, go to boston.com/as/ movies/blog.

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