“Whodunit” films have a unique air about them. These types of films are both fun and challenging. They allow the audience to become a character within the story. Viewers participate as they try and solve the mystery for themselves. From the beginning of the movie until its end, the goal for the audience is to find the perpetrator. The initial runtime becomes a countdown, and as the movie progresses, bigger and bigger hints are dropped until the big reveal. And it’s a shame we don’t see more of them.
“The Loft” is an American-Belgian thriller film directed by Erik Van Looy, telling the tale of five married men who share ownership of an upmarket loft. For these five men, the loft represents a safe haven for their secret affairs and sexual exploits with their respective mistresses. But when the body of a murdered woman is discovered, the group begins to suspect one another, as they are the only ones with keys to the loft. The film becomes an intense “whodunit” exploring the theme of betrayal by loved ones. Although the film has an unoriginal plot, its focus on the mystery makes it incredibly interactive and a fun watch.
At its core, the film is a murder mystery that does the genre justice. Elements within the film allow for the film to set up an environment that’s seemingly like that of a murder mystery dinner party. The film takes place both in the past and present. Flashbacks add bits and pieces of information that allow for the audience to put together their own connections between characters.
The film has a litany of red herrings that don’t seem obvious or unnecessary. Like any good murder mystery, everyone is a suspect until proven innocent. There are loads of characters who are possibly suspects, from revenge-seeking prostitutes to blackmailed businessmen, and even suspecting wives. It’s safe to say that every character on screen has a reasonable motive to want to kill someone or frame our main characters. It’s because of this that the film is so enjoyable to watch. It’s fun. It’s interactive. And most of all, it replaces the guns and explosions as a means for entertainment with an intriguing mystery for audiences to solve, which is something different in this day and age.
The mystery is augmented by complex characters that work well on screen. The main characters have their own unique journey and background that make it even harder to pinpoint the killer. From Chris’ (James Marsden) obsession with his new mistress to Luke’s (Wentworth Miller) sexual frustration and borderline sociopathic nature with his wife to Phillip’s (Matthias Schoenaerts) cocaine-filled rages, each seems to be voted most likely to murder someone in the future. The film not only creates suspects, but it also goes beyond the point of just creating archetypes you would probably see in every other crime thriller.
In terms of being an actual film, “The Loft” is hindered by its story. Most movies with “secret clubhouses” don’t end well, especially when it involves five wealthy grown men with dark secrets. The premise of the film isn’t something we haven’t seen before. But this is fine because you’re not supposed to focus on the plot but the mystery surrounding the plot. The film contains various twists and turns for the sake of appealing to the masses. Character emotions flip on a dime, and motives become twisted and tangled to the point where the big reveal that the audience was hoping for the entire movie is both unsatisfying and seems to come out of left field.
But if you can enjoy the film for what it is, rather than what it tries to be, then you’re in for a good time. No matter how much it tries to appeal to the masses by adding elements of Hollywood films, it is still a unique viewing. “The Loft” is a fun and interactive movie that’ll challenge the inner detective in all of us.
Rating: 3.5 stars