Director: Erik Van Looy
Starring: James Marsden, Karl Urban, Wentworth Miller
Eric Stonestreet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Rachel Taylor
In 2008, Belgian director Erik Van Looy took Bart De Pauw’s screenplay about 5 married men who keep a secret apartment for their mistresses and created a successful film. In 2010, Dutch director Antoinette Beumer would take the same screenplay and redo the film. And then, in 2014, Van Looy would direct the movie again, this time for American audiences. Clearly, this is a story that filmmakers feel can be broadcast all over the world, multiple times, and still turn out a profit. What that says about the quality of the idea you can decide for yourself: that it’s universally great or a cheap, pop, page-turner. Either way, its success largely depends upon the cast & crew every time it’s produced, relying on the story itself, of course, but also on the actors who portray these characters that are so enticing to so many directors. I haven’t seen the first two versions, but what we have in the American take is a thriller, no more & no less, but not something that screams for any more remakes.
This is the story of five men; their friendships, their secrets, and ultimately their betrayals. Vincent is an architect, very successful, very handsome, and the leader of the group. Chris is a psychiatrist, a devoted family man, a husband whose wife doesn’t love “the guys”. Philip is his half-brother, a bit of a hot head, a womanizer, and a man who does what he wants. Luke is the quiet one, even-keeled, worships Vincent, and doesn’t like taking chances. Lastly, Marty, the goof of the group, the joker, the schlub, and the loud drunk. They have their flaws, but these married men stick together and keep each others’ secrets, no matter what. This includes their latest group activity, the renting of a loft apartment in one of Vincent’s buildings, a place where anything goes, where their wives don’t know they stay, and where secrets pile on secrets until there’s no where left for them to go but public.
On just another morning, one of the friends goes up to the loft and discovers that something terrible has happened; a woman has been killed and is lying handcuffed to the bed. With only five keys in existence, one for each man, there’s no way in for any strangers. That means that one of the five must be the killer, or at least must know who this woman is. And so each is called, arrives in turn, only to stare in shock at what is waiting for them in the loft. As the police bring the men in for questioning and as the friends begin to interrogate each other, bits & pieces of the truth are revealed, leading us back in time to a whole series of intimate encounters, bad decisions, heart breaks, infidelities, and secret sessions in the loft, a place where marriages are shattered, where friendships are ruined, and where dreams become nightmares.
You either like thrillers or you don’t. If you do, The Loft is the movie for you. It may be a remake of a foreign film, twice over actually, but I think we can assume that it left all its dark, subtle charm behind it and let itself become an American thrill ride, complete with rich white men, their pretty wives, the blonde mistresses that they can’t keep their hands off of, and the butcher knives that just seem to be pretty darn near everywhere. Sounds like a thriller to me, and there’s place for films in this genre, an audience for the kind of movie that doesn’t offer much beyond a primitive desire to see who might die in the next scene. If you’re a fan of the style, you’ll be happy with the way the plot flows, from the galas to the pretty people rolling around blurrily in bed, from the crisp suits to the backstabbing nouveau riche. It’s an American thriller with a solid foreign base, but a page-turner at its core, a tale of sex & secrets that would make one hell of a dime store paperback.
But, and it’s a big one, if you don’t love thrillers you might just hate this movie. Critics seem to, giving it a 2.4/10 on IMDb, calling it a clumsy orgy that deflates expectations. Ouch, not good, and probably a sentiment held my a large number of people, specifically those who like their cinema well-done. The Loft can’t claim to be that, not with its awkward cast of characters, mediocre acting, uncontrolled plot, and terrible ending. And it can’t purport to be dramatic, even if it may try desperately. It’s always a cheap thrill, never a high-quality storytelling, and I would imagine that’s where the critics of this film run into a wall. So, it’s up to you to decide with which camp you’ll pitch your tent. Did you watch & enjoy 8MM 2? Then this one will be right up your alley. Would you rather watch a documentary about Russian oppression, depicted by black box actors who speak only in verse? Then I might recommend that you see something else.
Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 1080p HD Widescreen, the Blu-ray video quality is top-notch. The companion DVD is 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. The Blu-ray boasts a high quality picture, with crisp images and clear scenes, though with a bit of a muted color palette.
Audio – The Blu-ray was done in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, while the DVD was done in English Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles on either disc can be selected in English SDH, Espanol, or Francais. On the Blu-ray menu, the Button Sounds and Ticker can be turned on or off. The sound quality of the Blu-ray was very nice, with a balance that is sometimes lacking from action-packed Blu-ray presentations.
Extras – The only special features of the disc are a set of Previews: The Grey, Sabotage, Nightcrawler, Killer Elite, Homefront, Side Effects.
Rent It. It comes down to this; what do you want to see? A high-powered drama dripping with intense emotion? Nah. A bit of a bad-boy thriller with infidelity galore? Yup, that’s what this is. The film gets a bad rap from critics, but audiences seem to like it, so figure out for yourself where you stand. Me, I’m somewhere in the middle. I don’t enjoy watching crappy murder mysteries, but I can get on board for a few cheap thrills, as long as I know that they’re coming and that the people who present them to me aren’t advertising something completely different. Perhaps the original film is better, in fact I’d bet that it is, but what we have here is, at the very least, an entertaining evening for the masses. The video is very good, the audio great as well, but there aren’t many extras on the Blu-ray. Rent with low expectations or if you’re a fan of the genre; anyone else is just setting themselves up for failure.
☆ ☆ ☆ – Content
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio
☆ ☆ – Extras
☆ ☆ – Replay