Lights, Camera, Action! | The Loft (DVD Movie Review)

By Freda Cooper 15.06.2015

Image for Lights, Camera, Action! | The Loft (DVD Movie Review)

The Loft (UK Rating: 15)

Five married men secretly share a penthouse so they can lead secret lives away from their wives. What could possibly go wrong? In the case of The Loft, just about everything!

It starts with a body falling from on high and landing on a car, followed by the discovery of a dead woman in the loft of the title, but how did she get there, and who did it? There are only five keys to the door, one for each man, so it has to be one of them, doesn't it? The remainder of the film is devoted to solving the mystery, and digging into each man's back story while they are questioned by the police.

If this sounds familiar, it is because this is the third time the film has made it to screens. The original, from Belgium, was released in 2008, with director Erik van Looy at the helm, and then came the Dutch version in 2010. This third one, again directed by van Looy, was actually filmed in 2011, but was only released in Belgium last autumn and then in the USA at the start of this year. In the UK, though, there's no cinematic release, just heading straight to DVD. That, along with four years on the shelf gathering dust, doesn't look promising.

Image for Lights, Camera, Action! | The Loft (DVD Movie Review)

Alongside having the same director as the original, one of the cast repeats his role from the 2008 version. It's no less than Matthias Schoenaerts,  in what was his first English speaking role. This film was shot in the same year as the release as Bullhead, which was his breakthrough role. Twelve months later he appeared in Rust and Bone and Hollywood came a-calling. He answered and has been in three major films this year (Suite Francaise, Far from the Madding Crowd and A Little Chaos). However, despite having played this role before, he looks decidedly ill at ease.

He's actually not the only one that is seemingly uncomfortable in his shoes. The five men are all stereotypes to make sure viewers can distinguish between them, and none of their performances are convincing. Schoenaerts Philip is the loose cannon, enjoying sniffing cocaine and having a taste for prostitutes in handcuffs. Marty (Eric Standstreet) stands out only because he's heavier than his friends and lacking in social graces. There's the quieter, techie nerd in glasses, Luke (Wentworth Miller), the inherently decent Chris (James Marsden) who gets dragged into the whole mess against his better instincts, and the leader of the pack, Vincent (Karl Urban), an architect who designs the building that houses the loft, and someone who is arrogant enough to come up with the idea in the first place.


 
With its budget of US$14 million, The Loft had enough in the pot to produce at least a half decent thriller, but it's difficult to how that money has been spent. Despite its glossy pretention - flashy apartments, glamorous parties, and sleek cars - it has a grainy look that makes it look nothing short of cheap. It's a film that has trouble living up to the image it has of itself, not just in terms of the budget but also the genre, because it clearly fancies itself as a film noir.

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Somewhere underneath The Loft's irritating zig-zag narrative, lumpy dialogue, and thin characterisation, there's a decent story complete with some intrigue, but not enough to merit three separate versions of the same yarn regurgitated within a mere seven year period. For a film that sees itself as a noir, it never gets past pale grey.
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