2007, Movie, R, 98 mins


Written by French filmmakers Alexandre Aja, Gregory Levasseur and actor-turned-director Franck Khalfoun, all of whom worked together on 2003’s HIGH TENSION, this stripped-down, English-language thriller pits a harried woman against a psychopath within the confines of a deserted high-rise office building.

Ambitious corporate cog Angela Bridges (Rachel Nichols) is still at her desk long after most of her coworkers have decamped for the holidays, trying to finish up and get to the family Christmas Eve party before the next nagging phone call from her sister. The distractions include an awkward conversation with colleague Bob (Simon Reynolds), who can’t apologize enough for the ugly, drunken pass he made during the company party. But when Angela finally makes it to her car on level P2 of the building’s vast, empty indoor parking lot, the car won’t start. And her relief at the appearance of security guard Thomas (Wes Bentley) is short-lived. One moment they’re talking and the next she’s waking up chained to a chair, guarded by a vicious dog and wearing a flimsy white dress. The apparently sweet, helpful Thomas, Angela quickly realizes, has been watching her for months, and now she’s at his mercy. What follows is a predictable but briskly executed cat-and-mouse game, as the resourceful Angela escapes and tries to stay out of Thomas’ clutches long enough to either summon help or get out of the building, neither of which proves as easy as you’d think.

No two ways about it: The screenplay is derivative. But the location adds a little novelty to the standard-issue running and screaming — there's something faintly menacing about bustling business districts and densely occupied office buildings when they empty out after hours, and how easily security measures can become traps in the hands of a maniac. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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