Here’s a rare occurrence. I walked into The Loft knowing virtually nothing. I hadn’t read the plot synopsis and I had not one idea of what critics were saying. In fact, it was only about a week ago when I was walking out of an auditorium after seeing a film (I think it was American Sniper, but I’m not positive) that I first saw the poster. I turned to my friend and said, “What on earth is The Loft?” It was the first time I had even heard of it, and I quickly forget about it until I saw it on the list of films releasing this weekend. So, of course, I saw it. I was intrigued, not by the film, but by my lack of knowledge.
As the opening credits began to roll, I came across a couple surprises. The first was that it is a remake. How was I supposed to know that The Loft is a remake of a 2008 Belgian thriller? Better yet, how was I supposed to know that the same person directed both films? These facts were revealed to me upon doing a little research in preparation for this review, but the credit text “Based on the film Loft” took me by surprise.
The second surprise was the plot itself, which I didn’t expect upon entering. From the poster, I expected a trippy horror movie that involved a creepy woman and a maze. Nope. It follows a group of men, Vincent (Karl Urban), Kris (James Marsden), Luke (Wentworth Miller), Marty (Eric Stonestreet), and Phillip (Matthias Schoenaerts). These men are best friends who secretly share a loft that they use if they ever need alone time, and by alone time I mean a hidden place to cheat on their wives. But a whodunit mystery ensues after a woman is found on the bed in the loft, handcuffed and sliced open. Our main characters know that they are the only ones with keys, so the movie becomes a series of flashbacks to give us pieces of the puzzle and try to figure out just which of them is responsible.
The Loft is far from good, especially when the plot veers into ludicrous territory with mind-numbing twists and turns. However, I would be lying if I said that it didn’t keep me guessing for the first two acts or so. For that reason, I can’t even fathom giving this movie as much hate as some critics (only 17 have reviewed it on Rotten Tomatoes, every single one giving it a negative review, thus making it sit at an uncomfortable 0%).
The only actors I recognized in the film were Karl Urban (Bones in Star Trek and Dredd in, well, Dredd), and James Marsden (Cyclops, for Pete’s sake!). I’ll give them this. They try. Unfortunately, the script doesn’t make any of their conversations as intense as they could be in the hands of a more competent writer. A lot of the movie takes place inside the loft, which is solid ground for compelling dialogue (see Roman Polanski’s Carnage), but it simply isn’t ever as compelling as it could be.
That being said, the script doesn’t move at a boring pace, despite the constant back and forth between the distant past (leading up to the death), the recent past (in the loft after the death), and the present (in the interrogation room with the police). As I said, it kept me guessing, which is sometimes just enough to warrant a watch.
But I can’t warrant a watch in defense of The Loft because it isn’t that good. This is the second time that Erik Van Looy has directed the same movie, and it’s a bit of a shame that it hasn’t turned better. Sometimes his direction is okay, having some inspiringly stylish shots in the mix, but they are quickly drowned out by other shots that seem to be wannabe-stylish in a pretentious sort of way. The Loft is an average whodunit that gets caught up in its lace of mysterious webs, but the actors try and it did keep me guessing. Oh, and there are some pretty, um, effective sex scenes. So there’s that.
Rated R for for sexual content, nudity, bloody violence, language and some drug use
Starring Karl Urban, James Marsden, Wentworth Miller, Eric Stonestreet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Isabel Lucas, Rhona Mitra, and Rachael Taylor
Written by Bart De Pauw and Wesley Strick
Directed by Erik Van Looy
Photo credits: flickeringmyth.com, RogerEbert.com