Location, location, location: The Loft (Erik Van Looy – 2014)

Wentworth Miller, Eric Stonestreet, Karl Urban, Matthias Schoenaerts, and James Marsden.

The first rule of The Loft is that you don’t talk about the loft. The second rule of the loft is that you don’t tell your other half about the loft. The third rule of the loft is that if you find yourself buying into a five-way share of a newly built penthouse apartment with your deplorable best mates so that you can all cheat on your wives in the same bed (not at the same time thankfully) you should probably look in the mirror and have a good, long think about some of your life choices.

None of the boys were sure as to why they had agreed to make this film.

These are the circumstances for Vincent (Karl Urban) and his band of not so merrily married men in Erik Van Looy’s US remake of his own 2008 film. Having a place to go where pesky hotel bills and credit card statements will no longer arouse suspicion is all fun and games until one morning a very dead blond is found handcuffed to the bed and a cryptic, and very corny, Latin note appears written in blood on the headboard. Time to put the ‘Do Not Disturb’ hook over the door so the maid doesn’t come in to clean.

Lots of close-ups of furrowed brows, fruity language and angry accusations ensue as tempers and friendships fray and the guilty party is encouraged to own up. The great majority of the film is then cross-cut between a police interrogation room and flashbacks to events leading up to the present over the course of a year. If this all sounds like a mixture of CSI, Law & Order and The Hangover gone very badly wrong then you’re on the right track. 

Poirot would have had a field day with these boys; however, sadly they’re not on the Orient Express or a boat on the River Nile but instead in a grey, nondescript tower block in the middle of what I presume is LA, maybe? Bland and generic enough for you? In films like Se7en I do appreciate an ambiguity in terms of setting to help focus on themes but here it would have helped to flesh things out a little.   

Seriously, why am I here?

It’s also a real shame that Agatha Christie didn’t write the script, as what is a reasonable cast – James “Cyclops” Marsden, Wentworth “Prison Break” Miller, Eric “Modern Family” Stonestreet and Matthias Schoenaerts, who starred in the original film – have very little to work with. The film is part whodunit, part erotic thriller but doesn’t push either of these far enough to have any particular impact.

It is difficult to associate with any of the men as they are by and large entirely irredeemably reprehensible or even sympathise with any of the five wives as they are not developed to a point where you care about them at all. Essentially it is a nigh on impossible task to make a film about adultery and murder palatable. A twist in the tale makes the last act reasonably interesting but with so little invested in the outcome it’s best just to go with it and make it to the end and be done with the whole torrid affair.