THE LOFT (2014)
Directed by Erik Van Looy
Architect Vincent Stephens acquires The Loft, a penthouse suite in a building he designed, to share with his four best friends so they may entertain their guests without any worry of credit card or hotel bills that their wives may discover. Their secret adulterous lives are threatened when they discover a woman dead and handcuffed to the bed in The Loft. With only the five men in possession of a key to the apartment, the men must identify which one of them has committed the crime.
Tense thriller THE LOFT splits its story into three parts: past, present and future, constantly splitting between the three. The present, as we can decipher it, is the moment when Luke Seacord enters The Loft and is the first to discover the bloodied body in the apartment. Shocked to the core, he rings his four friends to come to The Loft so they can try and work out what to do next. The movie easily slips into the future, when the five men are being interrogated by the police separately, as well as the past when we see the moment that Vincent introduces The Loft to his friends. With each of the men guilty of sordid secrets in the room, the guilty party could be any of them… unless, of course, they’ve been framed? Disgruntled one night stands, furious mistresses and fuming wives could be at play, but the guys must watch their next step if they’re to walk away without blood on their hands or be wrongly accused of the crime committed.
There’s plenty to get your teeth into with THE LOFT, particularly with its clever use of time switching to tell the story. The history of the relationship between the guys, from the party to celebrate the new building designed by Vincent to the horrifying events of the present day, really give some background on what each of them has been up to, particularly on one trip to San Diego where it seems almost all the men present were fancying a bit of extramarital excitement. The film doesn’t show these past antics all at once though. Instead, it dripfeeds when necessary to prolong the whodunnit mystery until pieces begin to fit together. The outcome isn’t as slick as I’d hoped but it wasn’t at all expected which was quite refreshing to watch.
Karl Urban and James Marsden lead the film as Vincent Stephens and Chris Vanowen respectively. Vincent is the brains behind the The Loft though he doesn’t need to persuade his friends much to accept a key for the secret penthouse suite except for psychiatrist Chris who soon changes his mind when he meets the beautiful Anne (Rachel Taylor). Matthias Schoenaerts stars as Chris’ coke-head step-brother Philip Trauner who has something of a short fuse especially when he’s off his head on drugs. Wentworth Miller and Eric Stonestreet complete the group of friends as Luke Seacord and Marty Landry, guys who clearly love their wives but wouldn’t say no to other women either. All five actors do a fantastic job of playing their respective characters although there’s a lack of character depth, besides that of Chris Vanowen, due to the script and screenplay. Most of the guys have a personality which is pretty much established at face value and isn’t developed that much more except for their adulterous actions. However, I can see why their characters may have been written this way, to keep the viewer guessing as to who is responsible for the mystery woman’s death.
The Loft is quite a fast paced watch and the sordid secrets keep the viewer glued to the screen as they unfold. The climax might not be as clever as it likes to think it is but the web of lies and truth will keep you entertained.