Five married guys go in on an adultery pad together, only to find a woman’s dead body there and realize that one of them must be responsible. You hear the premise of “The Loft,” and if you’ve got a modicum of sensitivity, the misogyny claxon probably starts blaring. Still, you try to keep an open mind. The cast sounds decent — Karl Urban, James Marsden, Wentworth Miller (“Prison Break”), Eric Stonestreet (“Modern Family”). Director Erik Van Looy has adapted the film from his own 2008 Flemish-language version — not any sort of guarantee, but the European pedigree seems encouraging. Maybe this could be another “Very Bad Things,” so willfully, insanely obnoxious that we’re just swept along. Maybe this crew will simply get what’s coming to them.
Well, save the maybes — there’s no redeeming this softcore nonsense, which plays like a script that “Storage Wars” stumbled across in Joe Eszterhas’s old locker. Marsden, who can be underrated, plays the one semi-compelling character, a psychiatrist stuck in a dead marriage and wrestling with ambivalence over smug Urban’s boys’-club setup. (We’ll cut Marsden some slack for resorting to familiar clenched-jaw acting, since it mostly just blends with what similarly chiseled Urban and Miller are doing. But as for all of the glamorous execs-and-professionals stubble on display — are they all sharing the same Fusion ProGlide, too?)
It’s clear that Stonestreet is game for delivering something completely different from his fussy TV persona. But as a hetero horndog with no filter, he isn’t given anything clever to say, which just makes his ogling tiresome, never mind the novelty. Still, it’s a more fully realized character than the shrink’s volatile half-brother (Matthias Schoenaerts), who seems to be around solely to handle the violence the plot demands and to tap Schoenaerts’s cred from starring in the Belgian version.
Van Looy serves up an occasional visual that makes us wonder if maybe he’s laughing along with all the melodrama. Gotta love the rapid-fire close-ups of all the guys and their wives with raised eyebrows and squirmy glances, which perfectly complement the bad dialogue they’re spouting. Regardless, tedium sets you idly thinking things like, “Oh, if we had a nickel toward the mortgage for every time these overprivileged fools say ‘loft.’ So affected. Loft, loft, loft. Can’t we get an ‘apartment’? Or ‘condo’? Or even ‘flat,’ for the love of Pete?” You know, just the sort of stuff we’re meant to be obsessing over in an ostensibly erotic, provocative film about bad boys and their girl toys.
Tom Russo can be reached at email@example.com.