What a wonderful season for crap movies this winter has been! The “psychopathically unfunny” Mortdecai is currently burning up the charts, J-Lo’s The Boy Next Door totally redefined the “MILF terror”/”hunks-as-creeps” genres, and we’re only weeks away from “The Big Show”. But my January-February movie dumping ground white whale was…The Loft. When I first saw the film’s inexplicable, bizarre trailer before a showing of Inherent Vice, it was love at first sight. A trashy, seemingly dude bro-centric erotic thriller in which character actors say “the loft” 40 to 50 times while trying to solve a murder? Sign. Me. Up.
Upon further research, I discovered that The Loft had previously been made under the name Loft twice before in Belgium (2008) and Germany (2010). Even more interestingly, this American version of The Loft is by OG Loft director Erik Van Looy. “THERE IS A HISTORY TO THIS THING,” I realized. I became, in a word, obsessed. Was “The Loft” some sort of sentient virus-movie descending upon an unsuspecting American audience? I felt like Sam Neill’s character from In The Mouth of Madness, slowly losing his mind as the release date of the latest Sutter Kane novel draws closer. Soon, “Loftmania” had spread to my friends and colleagues.
Weeks passed until, finally, The Loft blew into town like a brisk January wind. Would The Loft live up to the expectations laid out by the pure madness of its trailer? Why did someone cast Prison Break dayplayer/Stoker screenwriter/arch-enemy of The Flash Wentworth Miller as a weird dork? Would I regret dragging seven of my friends to the fateful Friday night screening? Would The Loft be our doom…or our salvation?
Dear reader, let me tell you: The Loft….was everything we could have hoped for and more.
Something you notice early on in The Loft is that this is essentially a movie that takes place in a cologne commercial, with all the corresponding story logic that implies. This is a movie of wealthy men in open shirts leering at beautiful blonde sirens. We’re never even told where the film takes place, and our only local landmarks are things like “The Sports Arena.” I’m sure our cast of Morally Dubious White Men, including Loft-Master Karl Urban, dorky Wentworth Miller, Cyclops (James Marsden), Cyclops’ sadistic scumbag half-brother (Matthia Schoenaerts, reprising his role from the original film and, thus, a Loft Legacy), and out of control drunk Eric Stonestreet (here playing the evil mirror universe version of his character on Modern Family), all have names but the movie is definitely not concerned with you remembering them.
Okay, so the plot of The Loft is spelled out pretty clearly in the above-linked trailer: five guys use a fancy apartment owned by their pal Karl Urban to cheat on their shrewish, seemingly identically brunette wives. (Urban emphasizes that this is not only a cool secret boys club thing, it’s a sensible economic solution “in these trying times.”) When a woman’s corpse, complete with cryptic Latin message written in blood, appears in The Loft, our avatars of the patriarchy begin to turn on one another.
EXCEPT, THE THING IS: everything we’re presented ends up being a lie as A SERIES OF ESCALATING REVEALS AND COUNTER-REVEALS COME TO LIGHT. Where most movies only have one or two twists, this one is *mostly* twists. Welcome to The Loft, where no plot development is forbidden and everything is allowed in the service of #pleasure and #mystery.
I should level with you by now that I actually thought The Loft was a really well-constructed film. Laughably misogynist, sub-De Palma garbage? Absolutely. But each piece of the The Loft puzzle is expertly placed, like the movie equivalent of one of those impossibly tall sandwiches that Shaggy from Scooby-Doo eats. It shuffles between the past (“Lets use this cool loft for sex haha yeah”), the more recent past (“There’s a body in the loft oh no!”), and the present (“The cops think we killed this lady and now we’re going to go to jail!”), subtly setting up important (dumb) plot points in plain sight.
Here, for you now, is every mind-blowing twist and reveal of The Loft [Highlight the blank space below]:
- The deceased is Karl Urban’s girlfriend.
- Everyone thinks Karl Urban did it so they drugged him and tied him up.
- The men who aren’t Karl Urban manipulated the crime scene to add the handcuffs and blood latin (I’m not actually sure why they did this?).
- Wentworth Miller has a secret camera in The Loft that he seemingly only uses to watch Karl Urban bang women.
- James Marsden’s girlfriend-on-the-side is actually a prostitute who was hired by Karl Urban to manipulate him into taking a key to The Loft.
- The gang once found Marsden’s psycho half-brother torturing a prostitute in The Loft while insane on cocaine.
- There’s video evidence of Karl Urban having sex with Eric Stonestreet’s wife, Marsden’s half-sister (who the half-brother is creepily over-protective of) and Marsden’s secretly-a-prostitute girlfriend
- We suspect, due to Wentworth Miller’s seeming reluctance to cheat on his wife and his collection of Karl Urban voyeur porn, that he is actually gay and in love with Karl Urban.
- …except The Loft hates us and doesn’t want us to be happy so THERE’S AN ADDITIONAL TWIST that Miller is in actuality obsessed with Urban’s *girlfriend* and responsible for her apparent suicide.
- It turns out Miller, using insulin from his wife’s diabetes kit, put Karl Urban’s girlfriend into a waking-coma thing.
- THUS: When Marsden’s brother slit her wrist to write the blood message, he accidentally killed her for real.
- Marsden figures out that this entire situation was manipulated by Wentworth Miller and calls the cops. After a struggle, Miller jumps off the balcony of The Loft to his death.
- Marsden’s brother is awaiting trial (for manslaughter?), Eric Stonestreet reconciles with his wife, Marsden and his love interest give their relationship another try, and Karl Urban is taken to the cleaners by a divorce and must now live in The Loft.
- Women are murder victims or shrill nags with little to no agency, while men can by and large do whatever they want with minimal repercussions. (This is not a twist).
My initial thought after leaving the theater was that The Loft is, essentially, Gone Girl for dummies. And I stand by that. But while Fincher’s film was a well made and thought provoking film I have zero interest in revisiting any time soon, I look forward to future drunken late-night viewings of this genuinely spectacular work of dumb smut. Say goodbye to the life you knew; we’re living in a post-The Loft world now.
The Loft is out in theaters now and is the pinnacle of human achievement.