The Loft

Movie Information

The Story: Five men sharing a loft for purposes of illicit assignations find a dead woman in the bed and realize one of them must be responsible. The Lowdown: Ridiculous, preposterous and pretty sleazy mystery thriller of the kind that only shows up in January.
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Director: Erik Van Looy (Loft)
Starring: Karl Urban, James Marsden, Eric Stonestreet, Wentworth Miller, Matthias Shoenaerts, Isabel Lucas, Rachael Taylor
Rated: R



Groucho Marx once said, “It’s better to have loft and lost than never to have loft at all,” but Groucho clearly hadn’t anticipated Erik Van Looy’s The Loft. Oh, I’ve seen worse movies, and I question if it really deserves that zero percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes (granted, there are only 17 reviews at this point) — surely, someone likes it — but the best thing I can say about it is that it’s so overwrought and takes itself so seriously that it’s ultimately pretty funny. By far the most startling thing about it is that anyone thought this story needed telling a third time — and not just one anyone, but a group of them had to come to this crackpot conclusion. You see, Mr. Van Looy made Loft in Belgium in 2008 from a script by someone named Bart De Pauw. For some reason, Mr. De Pauw’s screenplay was then remade by someone else — again as Loft — in the Netherlands in 2010 (where Van Looy seems to have stepped in to shoot part of that version). Now we have The Loft (it grew the article crossing the Atlantic, I guess) with Van Looy again at the helm. Judging by stills from the first film, this appears to be a virtual shot-for-shot copy of the original. It also seems to have been sitting on a shelf since 2011 before skulking into theaters in the dead of winter this year. It’s easy to see why.




The supposed advantage here is that this one is in English and has name actors for four of the five main characters. Only Matthias Schoenaerts (Bullhead, The Drop) carries over from the original. English is certainly a U.S. box office plus, but Karl Urban, James Marsden, Wentworth Miller and Eric Stonestreet have never carried a picture — something this is unlikely to change. It is not entirely their fault — even though Stonestreet seems to be overcompensating (again) for his role on TV’s Modern Family by being the most priapic heterosexual in this quintet of horndogs. The screenplay undermines this lot at every turn.




You see, the whole premise is based on the fact that sleazy architect Vincent Stevens (Urban) has set aside the loft in question in his new building for his four friends and himself to use for encounters of the extramarital kind. Ah, but the best planned lays of mice and men (and these guys are definitely in the rodent family) often go agley — as poet Robert Burns puts it — and that happens here when the testosterone-fueled herd finds a dead woman handcuffed to the bed in their loft. Since the five are the only ones with keys to the place — not to mention the security code — it stands to reason that one of them “dunit.” But which one? Is it sleazy Vincent? Rabbity Chris (Marsden)? Nervous straight-arrow Luke (Miller)? Blustering Marty (Stonestreet)? Full-blown psycho Philip (Schoenaerts)? Here’s the problem — long before the movie’s over you not only won’t care, you’d be happy to ship them all off to the chair.




The central problem with the film is that all of the characters — not just the men, but their barely sketched-in wives — are thoroughly reprehensible examples of humanity. Plus, the more we find out about them over the course of the increasingly absurd story, the more sleazy and creepy they become. That might have worked if the movie was played for black comedy, but, oh no, The Loft takes itself very seriously indeed. The only humor to be found is of the strictly unintended variety — there’s plenty of that toward the end when the silly, twisted plot’s climax that won’t withstand even casual scrutiny.




The Loft works strictly by cheating the audience with bits of misdirection through its fractured flashback approach to story telling. I freely concede that the structure is sometimes pretty clever, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s completely unbelievable. For that matter, it’s all predicated on the incredible idea that the accused aren’t entitled to legal counsel until someone confesses. That none of these guys clam-up and refuse to talk without a lawyer is astonishing. OK, maybe it’s not as astonishing as the idea that this story needed telling a third time, but it’s pushing it. Rated R for sexual content, nudity, bloody violence, language and some drug use.


About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

5 thoughts on “The Loft

  1. DrSerizawa

    Karl Urban is the only actor of the bunch that I even recognize. Well, maybe James Marsden a little. The others I don’t have a clue about. This sounds like another one of those things that make me scratch my head at the idea that anyone would think it was a good idea to bankroll the thing. I mean someone had to read the screenplay and then convince someone else that they would make a profit through investing in it. Must be the PT Barnum Effect.

    • Ken Hanke

      Well, it’s gonna be a long time before anybody makes a nickel on this.

  2. Jennifer

    Having seen the original in my Dutch language class and then the Dutch remake, I never understood why the film was made the first time let alone again (and again).

    The story line might have worked if executed properly in 1960 or 1970 but now it is old and tired much like Mr. Van Looy himself.

  3. Production Company

    I’ve been exploring for a little bit for any high quality articles or weblog posts on this sort of area . Exploring in Yahoo I ultimately stumbled upon this website. Studying this information So i am satisfied to show that I’ve an incredibly just right uncanny feeling I found out exactly what I needed. I most indubitably will make sure to don?t disregard this website and give it a look on a relentless basis.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.