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Face-Off: P2 vs. Inside 2016

In 2007, Rachel Nichols starred in P2, where she played a character who spends the night of Christmas Eve fighting off a violent maniac who is obsessed with her. Nichols must have been nostalgic for the experience of working on P2, because nearly ten years later she took the lead role in INSIDE. In that remake of a 2007 French film, Nichols played a character who spends the night of Christmas Eve fighting off a violent maniac who is obsessed with her... It's like John McClane fighting terrorists at Christmastime in both DIE HARD and DIE HARD 2. So now that we've reached Christmastime again, this seems like a good opportunity to put both Rachel Nichols Christmas thrillers up against each other. She has played someone having a rough holiday two times, but which time provides a better viewing experience?

Let's find out as director Franck Khalfoun's P2 takes on Miguel Ángel Vivas' INSIDE for this week's Face-Off.

RACHEL NICHOLS

In this film, Nichols plays businesswoman Angela Bridges. As she leaves her Manhattan office building late on Christmas Eve, Angela is just hoping she won't be too late for her family's Christmas party. Unfortunately, she's going to miss that party because she ends up in the clutches of a parking garage security guard who has become obsessed with her. Angela is a resourceful heroine who turns out to be more of a fighter than her captor expected. She makes multiple attempts to escape from the parking garage and/or call for help, and when one fails she's always quick to come up with another plan.

Nichols' character here is Sarah Clark, a pregnant woman who was driving home the first time she felt her baby kick - a distraction that caused her to get into a head-on collision with another car, a crash her husband died in. Some time later, on Christmas Eve, Sarah has reached her due date and is making plans to induce labor. But before she can get to the hospital for that procedure, a woman enters her home with the intention of cutting the baby from her womb. Given Sarah's condition and the tragedy she has endured, it's easy to side with her and root for her to get out of this insane situation.

STALKER

Wes Bentley plays security guard Thomas, an intensely lonely man who has fallen for Angela while watching her from afar and has decided to invite her to spend Christmas with him - whether she likes it or not. Thomas is always acting as if he and Angela could be a couple if she would just calm down and forget about the violent, creepy things he has done. Like knocking her out and restraining her in his office was normal, acceptable behavior. He goes back and forth between freaking out and trying to convince Angela to give him a chance, and Bentley plays unbalanced quite well. 

Laura Harring plays Madeleine, who enters Sarah's house carrying chloroform, restraints, and a labor-inducing drug. She catches Sarah asleep and is clearly convinced that getting the baby is going to be quick and easy. It's not. Madeleine is here for horrific reasons, but as the events play out she also displays concern for Sarah, solely because she needs the baby to be safe and healthy. She's a cold-blooded murderer, but she believes her actions are justified. Harring does well in the role, even when her character gets overly chatty.

FESTIVITY

This is a great one to include in Christmas movie marathons, and I have watched it every December for the last several years. It never goes long without reminding the viewer that the story is taking place on the night of Christmas Eve into Christmas morning; there's snow falling, Thomas has his office all decorated, he briefly puts on a Santa costume, there's a tree standing in the lobby of the building, characters talk about Christmas parties and spending the holiday together, and there are several Christmas songs on the soundtrack - "Santa Baby", "Silent Night", "Blue Christmas", etc.

INSIDE is set in Chicago, but the filmmakers didn't put much of the budget toward making making it look like it's taking place at Christmastime. While it makes sense that Sarah wouldn't be in the holiday spirit, there's not a lot of joy evident from her neighbors, either. There are decorations, but they didn't put a lot of effort into it. We're told that this is the warmest Christmas Eve in memory, so that's why the rain pouring down in Sarah's neighborhood isn't freezing, and there isn't a flake of snow to be seen anywhere. We get to hear a bit of "Jingle Bells", though.

VIOLENCE

P2 is more about suspense and thrills than bloodshed, but the filmmakers made sure to include some moments of gore and grossouts. When Thomas gets his hands on a man who acted inappropriately toward Angela at an office party, he makes a mess of him, smashing him between a car and a concrete wall. Even more troubling violence comes when Thomas sets his dog loose on Angela. An eyeball is punctured, a person goes up in flames, but the most effective, cringe-inducing moment may be the most simple: Angela rips off a fingernail while trying to snag a phone that's on the ground just beyond her reach.

The French version of INSIDE was a brutal bloodbath, and while the remake is toned down from that, there's still plenty of death and blood on display here. Several characters are killed with sharp objects - one takes multiple stabbings while blood pours from their wounds, another is incapacitated with a stabbing and shown a picture of a loved one while he's finished off with suffocation. There's a heartbreaking accidental killing, a couple more quick executions, and some physical altercations between Sarah and her attacker.

CAT AND MOUSE

Angela spends roughly half of the movie sneaking around the multiple levels of the building's parking garage, trying to escape from Thomas. She tries to call for help through the gate, she steals his key cards and manages to get on the elevator, she breaks into a car rental office. The problem is, Thomas is able to keep an eye on her through the security cameras, so it's tough for her to do anything that he doesn't know about. He is able to thwart her escape attempts at every turn, even when that means flooding the elevator shaft with a fire hose. Then Angela realizes she needs to smash those cameras.

Madeleine takes control of things almost immediately, and there's not much Sarah can do aside from locking herself in the bathroom. If not for the fact that other people keep showing up - Sarah's mom, a neighbor, police officers responding to a call Sarah made when Madeleine was lurking outside the house - Sarah would be screwed. These other people cause enough distraction that she's able to escape from the bathroom and eventually the house for an extended stalk and attack sequence that takes the characters into a car, through an empty house, and into a swimming pool. Good thing this wasn't a freezing cold Christmas.

P2

The worst thing about INSIDE 2016 is the fact that it's a remake. If you can put all thoughts of the superior 2007 French version out of your mind, Vivas' remake (which was co-written by [REC] franchise collaborators Jaume Balagueró and Manu Díaz) is actually a decent thriller. But just like it can't match up with the original INSIDE, it also pales in comparison to P2 (which was co-written by Alexandre Aja). INSIDE can tie P2 in a couple categories, but Nichols' Angela is a more interesting heroine than her Sarah, Wes Bentley's Thomas is much more entertaining than Laura Harring's Madeleine, and P2 actually feels like it's taking place on Christmas Eve. INSIDE really dropped the ball in the holiday ambiance department.

Do you agree with the outcome of this Face-Off, or do you think INSIDE 2016 should have bested P2 in some categories? Share your thoughts on these films in the comments section below. If you have suggestions for future Face-Off articles, you can send them to [email protected].

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