Monday 24 December 2018

P2 (2007)

Director: Franck Khalfoun
Writers: Alexandra Aja, Grégory Levasseur and Franck Khalfoun
Stars: Wes Bentley and Rachel Nichols

Index: Horror Movie Calendar.

Sometimes the simplest stories are the best and P2 really doesn't have much more plot than an elevator pitch. IMDb suggests that, "A businesswoman is pursued by a psychopath after being locked in a parking garage on Christmas Eve" and, really, that's about it, but it kept me paying attention for an hour and a half and, crucially, it didn't piss me off. It had plenty of opportunity for stupidity and cliché, but it successfully avoided the former and mostly avoided the latter. It didn't go with the obvious cheap ending, partly because it had no interest in setting up P3 for a 2008 release. It set up its story, it told it with some style, it wrapped it all up and it went on home to spend Christmas with family, just like our businesswoman wants to do from moment one. Even though it spends almost its entire running time in a parking garage (hence P2 and why there wasn't a P1), it has as much claim, if not more, than Die Hard to be a Christmas movie. How's that for a controversial statement to start this review? Friendships have been lost over less!

The businesswoman in that description is Angela Bridges, who works in downtown Manhattan, where she finds herself stuck in the office late into Christmas Eve, and the season is completely obvious. The first thing we hear is Santa Baby played over the PA system down in the parking levels. Upstairs, Carl the security guard tells Angela that the building will be closed for the next three days; we hear subdued carols floating around the big Christmas tree in the empty lobby; and Angela has a bunch of presents with her to give to her sister's kids. If a future version cuts the scene later on when she explains to police on the phone that she's being held captive in the Arcadia Building on Park Avenue, we might believe that she works at the Nakatomi Tower where it will be Christmas forever. By the way, that isn't a spoiler. While Santa Baby plays over the opening credits, we follow a roaming camera through that almost empty parking level to a BMW just in time for a distraught young lady to burst out of its boot. Oh, we know where we're going!

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Bates Motel (1987)

Bates Motel (1987)
Director: Richard Rothstein
Writer: Richard Rothstein
Stars: Bud Cort, Lori Petty, Moses Gunn, Gregg Henry, Khrystyne Haje, Jason Bateman and Kerrie Keane

Social media has been abuzz (well, a little bit) with the fact that interim Phoenix mayor Thelda Williams has issued a proclamation that 11th December, 2018 will be known as 'Psycho' Day. It's an odd thing, of course, for a public official to celebrate psychos in any form, but this is a little different from what many might expect. While most of Alfred Hitchcock's classic, Psycho, was shot at Revue Studios in Universal City, CA, including all the scenes at the 'Psycho House', which is located on the Universal backlot even though Psycho was a Paramount picture, it famously opens with a long shot of the downtown Phoenix skyline. For a full thirty seconds, the camera pans across my city until it zooms in through a hotel window to show Sam Loomis and Marion Crane getting dressed. Hitch sets the scene with text: "Phoenix, Arizona" on "Friday, December the Eleventh" at "Two Forty-Three P.M." The mayor wants us to "remember and celebrate the inclusion of our city's skyline in this culturally significant film," which seems appropriate enough.