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Front Page - Friday, February 6, 2015

‘The Loft’ a thriller with few thrills

The Critic's Corner

David Laprad

Halfway through watching “The Loft,” I told a friend via text that they could have titled it “Men Are Pigs.” She replied, “I could have told you that.” I’m not sure if she was talking about the movie or men, but either way, that brief exchange was the most entertaining part of the two hours I spent in the theater watching the film.

(Maybe you think I’m a pig for texting during a movie, but there was only one other person in the theater, and they weren’t anywhere near me. When someone is sitting near you, texting once the lights go out is bad protocol.)

Anyway, here I am, giving another piece of January trash a bad review. But it’s not my fault. I didn’t want to see a bad movie anymore than the filmmakers wanted to make one.

The creative team behind “The Loft” could have taken a step toward making the movie more enjoyable by infusing at least some of its characters with a modicum of sympathy. The story revolves around five married guys who agree to split the cost of a high end downtown loft for their extracurricular activities. “No messy credit card bills, no sneaking around town,” says Vincent, who proposes the idea and gives each man one of only five keys to the suite.

The only character with a mote of likability is Chris, who says he doesn’t cheat on his wife, but does it anyway when someone throws a pretty blonde in his face. (Oops. Did I say too much?)

This seems like a great set-up until one of the women brought to the loft ends up dead – and not just garden variety dead, but “handcuffed to the bed, sliced open, with Latin written in blood on the headboard” dead. As the men try to figure out “whodunnit,” they grow suspicious of each other, and much yelling and manly posturing ensues. (A great drinking game while watching “The Loft” would be to take a shot every time one of the guys chest bumps someone and screams “Bring it on!” I’d be out before the end of the second act.)

There are a few twists, but wow, are they hackneyed. I didn’t see the big one coming, but instead of being surprised, I groaned. In that moment, which happens well before the end of the film, any semblance of curiosity I had regarding the identity of the killer seeped out of me like air being let out of a balloon.

The thing I disliked the most about “The Loft” was what the big reveal says about its central characters. While I can’t give anything away, it essentially makes them hypocrites. “You slept with who? Bring it on!” (Oops. Did I say too much?)

I also don’t think the women in the movie got a fair shake. With one exception, all of the central female characters are either psychotic, gold diggers, or “working girls.” I guess since all of the men are pigs, it’s only fair that most of the women would be wallowing in mud, too. Either that, or the screenwriter couldn’t craft human characters, so he created unpleasant archetypes.

“The Loft” doesn’t offer much more fodder for complaint. The casting is decent and the acting is pretty good, and while I would have liked slicker, more “Hitchcockian” camerawork, director Erik Van Looy did an OK job behind the camera. I could have used fewer blurry close-ups of the actors during the police interrogation scenes, but I understand he was trying to suggest a confused state of mind.

Maybe I’m giving too much artistic credibility to Van Looy. After all, “The Loft” doesn’t even qualify as disposable entertainment, just disposable.

Two stars out of four. Rated R for sexual content, nudity, bloody violence, language, and some drug use. David Laprad is the assistant editor of the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist and photographer. He will do his best to like the next movie he reviews. Contact him at dlaprad@hamiltoncountyherald.com.