Franck Khalfoun's P2 (Parking Level 2) is a great example of a stylish thriller that's intelligent enough to pull no punches with learned viewers who'd otherwise roll their eyes at its very formulaic package. This hard edge is imparted by the presence of the Coens of grisly horror Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur; who serve as writers (story and screenplay), producers, and presumably looming supervisors for first time director Khalfoun. One might recognize Khalfoun has Jimmy, the gas station clerk, who unfortunately receives an axe to the chest while retrieving a bottle of JB for Philippe Nahon in Aja/Levasseur's Haute tension (2003). Aja's go-to cinematographer (pre-Piranha 3D) Maxime Alexandre and Hill Have Eyes composer tomandandy tag along with what amounts to an exercise in superfluousness.
So P2 ends up being like Steven Spielber...I mean Tobe Hooper's Poltergeist. It's nigh impossible to discern where Khalfoun's talents land in this potent personality stew. Not a big deal really, and once the talk of the first reel subsides, you'll stay glued if for no other reason than to see how Angela gets out of the implausibly inescapable levels of concrete and oil stains. Khalfoun (or Aja or Levasseur) spices up some of this exposition with one of Angela's male co-workers duct taped to a chair as Thomas commands his obsession to exact revenge for the man's drunken indiscretion upon her. Of course, she refuses, and soon afterward the fate of the beaten man crushes the outer edge of the film's R rating.
Leads Nichols and Bentley are serviceable in a contrived "horrorish/thrillerish" way. Angela has more wits than usual for this fare despite her non-machine washable tight white dress. I guess one could surmise, given the total lack of sex or exposed naughty bits, the breast hugging attire has chosen as compensation and a way to express the strong character's delicate femininity. Or something. Bentley never quite comes off as a truly terrifying foe for anyone as his loon lashes out over his menial life position hardship and cries over Angela's vicious refusal to share in his love for her. Haute tension's supremely archetypal Le tueur would fold this prick into a pretzel and break out the cut-off machine. It's hard to read too much into P2. It's mild enough that it's surprising a bigger impact wasn't made at the box office, but still brutally diverting for seasoned horror aficionados to enjoy as nothing new done well. Watch it with someone who doesn't care for horror--they'll be pleasantly surprised.
Summit Entertainment (the studio behind the Twilight "saga") found themselves in a pickle with P2's home video debut. The DVD arrived without a hitch, but just as Toshiba's HD DVD conceded to Blu-ray in late March '08, the studio found themselves with a high def release with a rapidly dying market. While studios quickly canceled future titles on the format, Summit had this release already factory pressed. So P2 ended up being the last "official" title to be released on HD DVD. This disc wasn't even formally released. Copies just ended up floating around on auction sites and landing in discount bins months after the fact. At one point, this HD DVD was extremely rare, but now can be found relatively easily and cheaply online. If you still have a player or the 360 add-on drive, P2 is worth picking up. The DVD has a strong transfer, but this film deserves high definition. Despite no relation to Universal Studios, Summit opted to use a similar front silver "swoosh" and the "look and sound of perfect" tagline on this HD DVD. Also note the Region 1 in the back specs; HD DVD didn't have region locks like Blu-ray.