P2

Here is a creepy, unnerving and exciting action-horror film that engages you for all of its running time without ever quite dumbing itself down too far; this is a rarity these days. For Angela (Rachel Nichols), a workaholic toiling away in a New York City high-rise, Christmas Eve was just another boring old day at the office. But then the lights went out, and soon the party was over. Before long, Angela finds she’s been captured by Thomas (Wes Bentley from “American Beauty”), a vaguely creepy night security guard in her office building’s parking garage. Soon it’s revealed that Thomas is lonely, has an unrequited crush on Angela, and that that crush (and the desire to express it) has overtaken him; Thomas’s attempt to “impress” Angela with his devotion is thoughtful and kinda sweet, if horribly misguided and disturbing. The film, directed and co-written by Franck Khalfoun, was produced and co-written by Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur (“High Tension,” “The Hills Have Eyes” remake); Khalfoun appeared in “High Tension” as Jimmy. Like “High Tension,” the film is genuinely creepy and, at times, outright scary, because it plays on the very real fear of being all-but-helplessly confined to a locked space – and with an obsessive stalker/psychopath, yet. Nichols makes a good, fresh-faced and quick-thinking heroine – however ill-fated her attempts at getting away from her captor. Wes Bentley, as Thomas, is a deeply disturbed and frightening presence; he’s clearly insane, thinks he means well, but is also thoroughly scarred by years and years of lonliness and rejection and sees Angela as someone he can save from a similar fate. Try to imagine the young man from “American Beauty,” all grown up, still tending toward the demeanor of a creepy stalker, and now with years of rejection and psychosis under his belt; that’s Thomas. The film is darkly and beautifully shot by Maxime Alexandre, from the opening credits (set to “Santa Baby”) to the various scenes of a barefoot, beat-up Nichols attempting to evade the seemingly unstoppable Bentley. The bottom line is this: if you’re looking for an atmospheric and scary thriller that doesn’t insult you too badly, this will suffice.

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