The Loft

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This new thriller wasn’t screened for the critics. That’s never a good sign.

As I walked into the Reading Town Square to see it, I noticed the movie poster looked like Hitchcock’s Vertigo. The movie certainly went for a Hitchcock vibe, with all of the red hearings (which early on were a bit of fun).

It’s a remake of an earlier film, and the premise involves five guys, played by Karl Urban, Wentworth Miller, Matthias Schoenaerts – and the two more popular cast members – James Marsden (The Best of Me) and Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family).

We all know how idiotic it is to buy a time share, but these guys want this fancy loft for their various flings, not vacation time. Therein lies the first problem. These are all sleazy guys we can never really care about. In the Matthew Broderick/Annabella Sciorra movie The Night We Never Met, a few people share the same place, but it’s for different reasons. One is an artist and uses it as a studio. It’s just one character that uses the places for trysts. That made a much more fun movie with characters you can root for.

I sat there watching a movie like this and wondering – who is the guy that uses the place after Stonestreet? And did Stonestreet wash the sheets? He looks like a sweater, and guys aren’t known for wanting to clean up and wash clothes and sheets, so…do they hire a maid? I know, I know…these aren’t the questions that we’re supposed to ask. They’re rich yuppies with a swanky pad..

The guys all show up one morning because they aren’t sure who used the room the night before – when a woman ended up handcuffed and dead on the bed. This leads to the guys accusing one another, and flashbacks that lead us to believe that perhaps one of the wives found out and is getting revenge. And that’s kind of intriguing. It’s just weird that every wife is an ice queen. You wonder why they couldn’t give us a single character to like. You also wonder why these guys would’ve married these women, and vice versa. Is there not some sort of vetting process that goes on when you’re dating?

Oh, it’s not just the wives we start to suspect. There’s a corrupt politician (that will have every San Diegan thinking of Bob Filner, especially when one crucial scene takes place in San Diego).

There are a few prostitutes that are suspects as well.

One of the problems this movie has is that the men just stand around objectifying every woman they see. That could be at a wedding reception, or a fundraiser. They should’ve at least been interesting in some way. An example of how to do that would be one scene that does work. There’s a dinner party, and Stonestreet is getting drunk. He starts giving a woman a hard time that mentions breast implants. It’s a lot of fun listening to him compare fake breasts to his grandmother having dentures, and wondering why women don’t say things like “That’s not a nice smile, she has fake teeth!”

Of course, he also starts to comment on a boss that’s having an affair, and how it would be so much easier to have a secret apartment his wife didn’t know about. You’re on the edge of your seat, just like the other guys at the table are.

Surprisingly, the movie does give us a handful of scenes that are fun, and raise this movie above the normal garbage of this kind.

There’s some interesting cinematography from Nicolas Karakatsanis, giving us nice views of places and claustrophobic shots at other times. Some of the close-ups are filmed in an interesting way, too.

Yet we get so much exposition, and some horribly done police interrogations; and the problem when you have some poorly written and acted scenes, is it takes you out of it. For example, the gorgeous Rachael Taylor (Transformers) shows up to seduce one of the guys at a ritzy hotel. Their dialogue is like something out of a porno, or 50 Shades of Grey.

Schoenaerts (Bullhead) always places a dangerous druggie type, and his character created some decent tension. Except after a few times of him doing coke and getting into fights, you wonder why in the world any of them would’ve even given this nutjob a key to the loft.

Another problem the movie has is that these guys constantly look guilty around their wives. Not to mention the one goofball that gets caught by his wife while he’s on the balcony calling his mistress. Really? There are still people that get caught on the phone? I thought it was a lame scene in the Cape Fear remake in 1991, and it still is.

The weird thing is that a movie like Gone Girl has many of the same flaws, and critics raved about it. This movie isn’t nearly as good as Gone Girl (which isn’t that great to begin with), but it’s not as bad as you think it’s going to be. For a throw-away popcorn flick in January, you could do worse.

It is rather graphic, so be warned.

I’m giving it 1 ½ stars out of 5, but if you grade it on a curve with other thrillers of this ilk – it would get 3 stars.

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