Eric Plaag and Matt Smith

Group Sex: a review of The Loft

In Film, Reviews on February 1, 2015 at 7:54 pm

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by Matt Boyd Smith

The Loft is ostensibly a thriller for adults, though I think it’s probably more accurate to say it’s a an adult thriller for teenagers. Nothing wrong with that approach – teenage males need to become acquainted with movie plots outside of transforming robots from outer space and the endless parade of superhero flicks at some point, after all – but the filmmakers may want to at least acknowledge this with a glimpse of actual T&A every once in awhile. Sadly and disappointingly, The Loft not only fails at being a film adults will want to see, but also at being the kind of erotic thriller a high schooler would even be interested in.

Early one morning, Vincent Stevens (Karl Urban) finds a dead woman in the bed of the secret high-end fuck-pad he shares with his four friends Chris (James Marsden), Luke (Wentworth Miller), Marty (Eric Stonestreet), and Philip (Matthias Schoenaerts). He calls them all in to find out what happened, and it quickly becomes apparent that one of them is responsible. Moving back and forth between their showdown in the loft and the events of the previous year while they were all carousing with mistresses and falling in love with call girls (yes, that happens, for real), the film slowly reveals the mystery of the woman and her killer. Honestly, writing about the general plot makes the film sound much more interesting than it actually is.

At the most fundamental element of its cinematic DNA, The Loft is nothing more than a variation of a “locked room” mystery. There are a limited number of suspects, a limited number of scenarios which lead up the murder, and it is the job of the viewer and the various players in the plot to figure out who the responsible party is. The problem is that the mystery is pretty obvious from the outset, and instead of using elaborate smoke and mirrors to distract the audience from how little plot there actually is, and what we’re left with is a limp erotic thriller that envisions Karl Urban as every woman’s sexual fantasy (literally). And maybe he is. I’ve certainly met my share of women who wouldn’t mind sharing the bed with the guy who has played both a core character in the Star Trek universe and Judge Dredd. But here I don’t buy it, and that’s another big problem. I don’t buy that any of these guys is calculating, or that any of them would cheat on their wives, at least as played by an otherwise talented group of actors.

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There are other weird things at play, too, including a recurring homoerotic subtext between Vincent and Luke that doesn’t make sense. The hook-up between Vincent and the girl who ends up dead in the loft never seems like anything other than a possible mass hallucination. And Chris’s wife Allison (Rhona Mitra) seems to know exactly what’s going on and does nothing about it. The fact that the wives are mentioned as potential suspects halfway through the movie and nothing ever comes of it is, frankly, a real waste of dramatic potential. Allison is herself already no nonsense with Chris and his group of friends, so that she would even suspect he was up to something and not do something about it before the events of the film’s plot even take place is inconceivable on some level.

In general the acting is sub-par from both the main and supporting cast. And the direction is flat and unmoving on top of that, creating an uneasiness about the movie that calls attention to its inept blocking and uninspiring line deliveries. Interestingly enough, you’d think that the direction wouldn’t be an issue since this is the second time Belgian director Erik Van Looy has made this movie, after his 2008 original. The movie doesn’t look bad, though, so I can credit cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis who also worked on last year’s underseen gem The Drop for turning in some pretty images.

All in all The Loft just isn’t a very successful sexual thriller. It’s not particularly thrilling or sexy. It contains only the tiniest shred of a mystery, and the morality play that it could also function as is subsumed by an ending so inane that to say it defies logic would be a gross mischaracterization. Don’t see this. Go watch Basic Instinct or In the Bedroom or really anything other than this film.

1 out of 5 stars

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