The Loft (2014) / Thriller
MPAA Rated: R for sexual content, nudity, bloody violence, language and some drug use
Running Time: 108 min.
Cast: James Marsden, Karl Urban, Wentworth Miller, Eric Stonestreet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Rachael Taylor, Kristin Lehman, Rhona Mitra, Isabel Lucas, Kali Rocha, Robert Wisdom, Valerie Cruz, Elaine Cassidy, Graham Beckel, Margarita Levieva, Ric Reitz, Kathy Deitch, Dora Madison Burge
Director: Erik Van Looy
Screenplay: Bart De Pauw, Wesley Strick
Review published February 1, 2015
Architect Vincent (Urban, Riddick) has a plan to cheat on his wife (Cruz, Cellular) in a way that will remove the traces of hotel bills and credit card paper trails: he's left to himself a pricey loft apartment in a high-rise building he's designed in the middle of downtown Anycity, USA, where he can bring in his conquests without fear of being caught. To cover the exorbitant price, Vincent gets four of his successful buddies to go in with him for the same purpose.
Belgian director Erik Van Looy (The Memory of a Killer, Shades) remakes his own 2008 film, Loft, in the hopes that an English film with a few Hollywood actors can prove successful in the American and other world markets. Matthias Schoenaerts (The Drop) reprises his role from the earlier film as the tantrum-prone Philip, but not even he can bring a movie this DOA (about a woman who is DOA) back to life.
Shelved for over two years due to a problem with their distribution deal, The Loft is trotted out in the dumping ground of January of 2015. Why the distribution was an issue is beyond my comprehension, since this film feels like VOD/DTV material all of the way. The film contains no real bankable stars, and outside of Gone Girl, the sexy thriller genre hasn't really been screaming at the box office. Plus, the movie flat out stinks -- perhaps the worst European-to-American remake by the same director since George Sluizer remade The Vanishing back in 1993.
Though it might seem like merely an excuse for some gratuitous sex, at its heart, The Loft is built on a mystery: A seemingly murdered girl in a locked apartment that only the five men have a key to. The tale is told with flashbacks from a police interrogation of the prime suspects, who are all staying mum on what sorts of activities go on in the loft. The entire premise is a gimmick to begin with, and then the filmmakers sink the film further into the abyss by trying to zig and zag with the narrative, with an especially overbearing final half hour of pulling out rugs from under rugs from under rugs from under our feet. It's probably the least plausible and downright insufferable 30-minute sequence of events that I can recall in a thriller in some time.
Red herrings and plot twists abound, but the main problem with The Loft is that you won't care to find out who the killer is or why he/she/they committed the heinous deed. The reason is that pretty much all of the protagonists are loathsome and reprehensible people that we have no sympathy for, and whether all of them did it, or none of them, we feel like they should get just desserts for their selfish and disturbingly deviant behavior all around.
A special award should go to Eric Stonestreet (Identity Thief, Bad Teacher) for managing to embody one of the most loathsome characters in the history of cinema, Marty, a portly, obnoxious woman-hating drunk who somehow thinks that the loft is a great idea, as a 'pussy pad' could be where he takes all of his conquests. It's hard to imagine any woman desirous of him given his lack of good looks, but assuming they can see beyond the physical appearance, it would only take two words of conversation from the man to make any woman recoil. It's even harder to imagine he's getting the better end of the five-way split. It's impossible to imagine that he actually has a wife and friends.
The flashbacks have flashbacks, and the whole plot of the film becomes too convoluted to follow for the few viewers who manage to not give up trying or caring about the resolution. It feels like a Brian De Palma film, save for the joy of cinema. Though stylish, the extreme close-ups and boring, grey visuals don't exactly pop out, leading to a deadening of suspense. You'd think that excitement should be generated from the frenzied orchestral music, which is so overused that it drowns out even conversations that have zero excitement in content. It's an overly sleek-looking mess.
I could call The Loft just a deplorable piece of misogynistic shock-and-schlock, but I don't think it hates women as much as it just hates humanity. I hate this movie right back, and chances are, you will too.
-- Loft had also been previously remade in 2010 in the Netherlands.
©2015 Vince Leo