The Loft

Posted by Joel Copling on January 31, 2015

On the surface of it, "The Loft" is a lazy thriller, the answer to whose whodunit mystery is blatantly obvious from the get-go. There are five men, and there is a loft to which only they have direct access. They may use it however they wish, and mostly they use it in the ways one would expect: for one-night-stand rendevous with women. The film opens at the end (though blurring those whom we see and the full context of what is occurring), then moves haphazardly to the inciting incident: A dead woman is lying in a pool of her own blood in the bed of the loft. There is really only a single explanation: One of the five is hiding something.

Below the surface of it, this is a detestable farrago in just about every conceivable way--ludicrously padded out to meet the demands of an audience seeking the sort of early-1990s trash-thriller that populated the theater screens, even though any remote twistiness is replaced by all-caps obviousness for every second. The most prominent element of the film--the one that makes it worthy of zero stars, basically--is its open, casual, and unapologetic misogyny. Each of the male characters hates (and fears?) the women surrounding him, whether it be the one to whom he is married or the one with whom he is carrying on an affair. The women are always objects (of sexualization, of emotional abuse, of antagonization, and of victimization).

It's a disgusting habit of the movie to attempt to connect us to these men. There is Vincent (Karl Urban), who is married to Barbara (Valerie Cruz) but who had a one-night fling with Sarah Deakins (Isabel Lucas) while on a trip with two of the other men. The first of those is Chris (James Marsden), married to an unhappy Allison (Rhona Mitra) but currently cheating with the sister (Rachael Taylor) of a dead former patient (He is a psychiatrist). The other is Luke (Wentworth Miller, in a performance so over-the-top it circumnavigates the globe and crashes into itself), married to Ellie (Elaine Cassidy) but perhaps with a jealous eye wandering past only the women.

The other two men are Marty (Eric Stonestreet), who is proudly and blatantly sexist during a dinner party that is cringe-inducing in its hatred of the entire female gender, and Philip (Matthias Schoenaerts), a brutish lout who by the end shows his true colors and they are just the latest proof that screenwriter Wesley Strick (updating a 2008 film from director Erik Van Looy, who is also this film's director) has no idea what constitutes a protagonist or even an antihero of some sort. These are all sickening creatures, and it impossible to care a single lick about what fates they hold (The ultimate answer is worthy of multiple life sentences in maximum security confinement, and that's the best-case scenario).

It is also distinctly cruel to its audience, playing us for a fool (or appearing to, though again the answer to the mystery is so blatantly obvious there's no reason to guess who done what) after ninety minutes of hateful idiocy. None of the actors makes an impression unless it's a bad one, with the exception of Lucas, who is still straddled with the film's most insulting arc (a term I use loosely). Van Looy and cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis botch even the aesthetic angle, framing close-ups so poorly as to boggle the mind, while Eddie Hamilton's editing is a hack job of quick cuts where there needn't be any. But all of that is superficial, as is the surface treatment of a trashy thriller that blankets a truly despicable piece of work.

Film Information

Karl Urban (Vincent Stevens), James Marsden (Chris Vanowen), Wentworth Miller (Luke Seacord), Eric Stonestreet (Marty Landry), Matthias Schoenaerts (Philip Trauner), Rachael Taylor (Anne Morris), Isabel Lucas (Sarah Deakins), Rhona Mitra (Allison Vanowen), Valerie Cruz (Barbara Stevens), Kali Rocha (Mimi Landry), Elaine Cassidy (Ellie Seacord), Margarita Levieva (Vicky Fry), Kristin Lehman (Det. Huggins), Robert Wisdom (Det. Cohagen), Graham Beckel (Hiram Fry).

Directed by Erik Van Looy and written by Wesley Strick, based on the 2008 film "Loft" written by Bart De Pauw.

Rated R (sexual content, nudity, bloody violence, language, drug use).

108 minutes.

Released on January 30, 2015.