Remaking a foreign film can always be a tricky path to tread but when, as is the case with The Loft, you maintain the same director of the original there is always a chance. Taking the same premise from his 2008 film director Erik Van Looy’s new incarnation certainly goes for a Hollywood sheen but does it find ways to keep you dangling with suspense?
Five friends, alpha male Vincent (Karl Urban), good guy Chris (James Marsden), thug Philip (Matthias Schoenaerts), reclusive Luke (Wentworth Miller) and joker Marty (Eric Stonestreet) all band together to buy themselves a loft apartment where they can do naughty things away from the prying eyes of their wives. With only five keys cut for the apartment when a dead girl turns up the friends all begin to suspect each other of foul play. As all their dark secrets come out the number of people potentially looking for revenge only increases.
A glance at the poster for the American remake of The Loft makes no bars about wanting to be a Hitchcockian thriller. And in many ways it has the key ingredients; a high concept, dark characters, a smart location and enough killer blondes wearing slinky outfits to get you all hot under the collar. But Looy seems to have forgotten to read the cooking instructions properly because at no point does The Loft achieve anything it sets out to.
Early on it plants enough interesting seeds to keep you guessing as to who is back-stabbing who, less cat and mouse more cat and cat, creeping around until they’re ready to start clawing at it each other. The issues arise from one simple, but unforgivable, flaw; none of these characters are likable. In fact so utterly deplorable are they you slightly hope they all come a cropper. Of course asking us to take the side of any one of a collection of philanders is one thing but by the time the revelations start coming, and they come thick and fast towards the end, you’re left wondering if these really were the right climaxes to offer up. There’s enough potential suspects to chose from, some of whom you’ll almost like and want them to have their revenge, but the film fails to ever engage with them, instead sweeping them by the way side in the final act in order to focus on the deplorable key group of men.
Looy obviously doesn’t have that much faith in the script either. For while he’s letting his camera go all Michael Bay, swooping around the actors with a flourish hardly befitting of the tone of the film, he also insists on underscoring the whole thing with enough strained violins to make it abundantly clear that we’re supposed to feel tension in specific circumstances. At one point it’s genuinely intrusive, the violins ratcheting up to such a level during a scene which hardly requires anything other than the events unfolding to let us know “things are getting bad now”.
The Loft is a classic case of a conversion gone horribly wrong, you’d be better off sticking this in the basement.