Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Despite its racy premise, The Loft is too sloppy to be shocking

Besides being an early contender for the worst date movie of 2015, The Loft is a film that can’t decide what it wants. It’s a male fantasy, and a cautionary tale. It’s sleazy in concept, and timid in execution. It punishes its protagonists for their transgressions, then lets them off the hook. And, perhaps most maddeningly, it insists on painting those protagonists as pretty okay guys, deep down, even as their behavior repeatedly challenges that conclusion. (For some of the characters, anyway—despite The Loft’s many attempts at red herrings, the observant viewer could predict the final outcome simply by who gets a humanizing subplot and who doesn’t.)

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Based on a Belgian thriller, The Loft centers around a group of five 1-percent types who share a loft reserved for entertaining their invariably blonde, thrillingly unstable “mistresses, girlfriends, and one-night stands.” (The wives, on the other hand, are all brunette, sour-faced buzzkills.) Then a sexy young blonde turns up dead, naked, and handcuffed to the bed, with a Latin phrase smeared in blood on the headboard. Party over, bro.

The Loft is enamored with hidden agendas, plot twists, expository speeches about those plot twists, and “shocking” revelations in general. It’s also enamored of sleek modern design, and everything from the crash pad itself to a police interrogation room looks like it was shot on the set of an Ikea catalog. If only the movie was as enamored with filling its plot holes. (It features an LAPD whose autopsies apparently do not include toxicology reports, for starters.) Or with dialogue. Everyone makes an unintentionally hilarious statement at some point, although the really leaden ones are reserved for the mistress characters. These lines are all delivered straight, with the exception of those uttered by Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet, who gives an over-the-top performance as lecherous drunk Marty.

Besides privilege, these men reek of duplicity. One moment Marty is telling his friend Vincent (Karl Urban) not to talk to a woman because “fat chicks scare the good-looking chicks away,” and the next he’s devastated because his wife left him for having sex with that “fat chick.” One moment Chris (James Marsden) is a lovesick puppy dog who just wants to do right by heartless blonde Anne (Rachael Taylor); the next he’s willingly participating in a frame-up. But what makes these characters so unlikable isn’t that they’re unethical. Gripping films can and have been made about terrible people. The problem is that these guys—and this movie—are doing such a terrible job of being terrible.

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