Five married guys conspire to secretly share a penthouse loft in the city--a place where they can carry out hidden affairs and indulge in their deepest fantasies. But the fantasy becomes a nightmare when they discover the dead body of an unknown woman in the loft, and they realize one of the group must be involved.
American society has become obsessed with pop culture and the scandal that accompanies the active participants within the public eye. Television programs like 'Entertainment Tonight' once focused on the actual entertainment industry and not just those who populated it. There used to be a time that you could turn on 'Entertainment Tonight' and watch an hour-long behind-the-scenes making-of, say, 'Saving Private Ryan' and see how Spielberg shot the film and what sort of boot camp the actors went through – but that's not at all how it is now. Instead, all shows like that have turned to the personal lives of celebrities. People thrive on the scandal that unfolds in the lives of the rich and famous more than they care about the entertainment mediums themselves. 'The Loft' exists for people who love such scandal.
Filled with the same salacious content that causes check-out aisle tabloids to exist, 'The Loft' focuses on a fivesome of friends who purchase an upscale, uptown luxury apartment that they keep secret from their spouses. Without the risk of hotel bills showing up on their bank accounts, having a private loft allows them to have their secret affairs without their wives being the wiser. Of course, not all five of our leading men are the type to do such things. As we watch the movie unfold, we learn of how each of them has used the loft to their own advantage.
The movie opens with one of the men arriving at the loft early one morning. He finds the door unlocked and the alarm turned off. As he walks back to the bedroom area, he finds a blond woman lying face-down with blood soaked into the sheets. He immediately calls the other four and asks them to come to the loft and figure out how to handle this scenario. If they do the right thing – which is, obviously, to notify the police – then they open up a can of worms that will expose their secret hideout to their wives. Some believe that's the proper course of action, those being the less guilty ones. But the majority rules and they lean heavily towards options for getting rid of the body and cleaning up the mess without notifying the police or having their secrets exposed.
As they weigh their options, the movie begins jumping back-and-forth between the past and the present. We see the events that lead up to them buying the loft, to the devious acts committed at the loft, to them trying to solve the murder mystery on their own. This is the type of thriller that constantly slings different viewpoints into your mind that cause you to finger a different killer every few minutes, only to have you repeatedly second-guess your previous assessment. In that respect, it's a "whodunit thriller" pulled off perfectly – if only it could have kept that up.
With suspicious twists and turns aplenty, it's at the beginning of the third and final act that things really start getting interesting. At this point, there is a massive reveal that would work perfectly if it hadn't been undermined by several unnecessary twists and turns that follow. Had it committed itself to the path created by that great reveal, 'The Loft' would've been a wildly unpredictable success. The four or five twists that lie ahead of it really push it over the top and drag it out much too far. When that reveal unfolded, I immediately asked myself, 'What took this movie so long to come out?' For those who don't know, 'The Loft' was filmed in 2011, but not released theatrically until 2015. With the never-ending ending, it's pretty obvious why this movie sat in a can until now.
Unfortunately, the story formatting isn't the only gaping wound with 'The Loft.' James Marsden and Karl Urban each give good-enough performances, as does Matthias Schoenaerts (who played the same character in the original Belgian version of 'The Loft'). The performance by Wentworth Miller (who you might recognize from the TV series ''Prison Break') is bad, but not as bad as that of Eric Stonestreet (from 'Modern Family') who can't deliver a good line to save his life. Coming to us from the same writer and director (Erik Van Looy) as the Belgian version, another major problem with the movie is the script. As if translated word-for-word into English, the script does not work. In fact, I dislike bashing things so heavily in my review, but the script is downright awful. Portions of dialogue are simply atrocious. Hearing the terrible dialog uttered by equally terrible Eric Stonestreet is painful.
I enjoy a good suspenseful thriller. I even enjoy a nice dose of scandal with my thriller, but 'The Loft' misses the mark. And it's unfortunate. Containing all of the right ingredients, this could have been a great one. I've not seen the original Belgian version, but it has to be better than this one.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Universal has placed 'The Loft' on a 50-gig Blu-ray disc and placed it in a two-disc blue Elite keepcase along with a DVD version of the movie and a slip containing a code for the redemption of both an Ultraviolet and an iTune digital copy. A cardboard slipcase is also included with the first-out Blu-ray releases. Upon inserting the disc, an unskippable Universal vanity reel plays before "fresh" trailers from the internet. The main menu is a static image set to scoring.
Despite sitting on a studio shelf for four years, 'The Loft' features a pretty awesome video transfer. It's exceptionally sharp from beginning to end. A rainy scene bookends the movie. Both times we see it, the heavy movie-grade rain that falls is easily distinguishable drop-by-drop. The space between those two scenes does not lack a single detail. Close-ups reveal insane amount of texture and detail, from clothing patterns to facial pores/features. As bright sunlight beats in through the loft's floor-to-ceiling windows, individual specks of dust can be observed floating gently through the air. 'The Loft' lacks no details.
The movie's overall color palette is cold, creating an unsettling vibe and feel. Amidst the palette are strong colors that come and go to visually accent moments. They offer nice vibrant variation. Black levels are mostly deep and perfect, but on a few instances (like the climax) they become overbearing. Aside from a few scenes that obviously use CG backgrounds for a crutch, there's also a nice, natural depth to the imagery.
I couldn't find a single instance of artifacts, bands, aliasing or noise. Many scenes very well could have posed such problems – especially for a studio black sheep picture such as this – but they never pop up.
'The Loft' is accompanied by a solitary lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that, like the video, is absolutely impressive and far better than the movie deserves. The very same bookend scenes that highlight great detailed rainy video offer wonderfully dynamic downpour splashing sounds. All effects tend to ring out lounder than standard mixes found on most Blu-rays. No matter the source of the effect that you're hearing, they are always loud, clear and very well placed within the mix. No effect is lazily mixed to all channels with the same amount of oomph.
Piggybacking on that level of care that went into the effects mix, music is also arranged with precision and evenness throughout the space. Althought 'The Loft' features a generic score that excessively pounds the movie's tension into your mind through your ears, there's no room to complain about how it actually sounds. Used far more often that it should be, it pulses with a nice amount of detail throughout each of the speakers.
The movie's production value isn't always high. When that's the case, the vocals within a mix tend to show it; however, that's not the case here. With loud outbursts of accusatory yelling, there are plenty of instances for the small loft set to make its environment obvious through the echoing of voices – but that never happens. High volume vocals never even peter on the distorted end. My only mild complaint from the mix comes from a flatness within the vocal track. Some scenes very well could have featured some playful and dynamic mixing of voices, but missed the opportunities.
There are absolutely no special features on this disc.
'The Loft' contains all of the ingredients needed to make a solid scandalous thriller. There's drama, sex, violence, murder, an attractive cast, affairs, secrets, twists, reveals and more – but having all of the necessary elements isn't always enough. They have to be applied and mixed in such a way that they compliment one another. The terrible script definitely doesn't help the cause of the unbalanced screenplay. What could have been great is ruined by a few twists too many and awful dialog delivered by bad actors. The video and audio qualities are outstanding, but not even perfect technical specs could have made 'The Loft' worthwhile. Without a single special feature, this is definitely a Blu-ray worth avoiding.