If Kairo (Pulse) got my interest piqued towards Kiyoshi Kurosawa's works of horror, a genuine atmospheric piece which truly spooked me, then Loft is that perennial two steps backwards, falling into the curse I find permeating into many Asian horror movies of late, of standard cliches and eliciting guffaws from moments which translate into unwanted comedy.
Loft had the ingredients for a potential spook fest, and it was setup rightly so. You have a writer Reiko, (which seems to be the occupation of choice for spirits to haunt) experiencing weird bodily phenomenon of spewing black, gooey mud, and facing a writer's block, requests her editor to help her relocate to a nice quiet place (read: huge house in the middle of nowhere, with opportunities for things to go bump). Throw in an anthropologist whose latest project involves preserving a recently found mummy - a taciturn man living next door, and you have something interesting set up, together with side show characters for red herring purposes.
Alas, despite the usual craftsmanship of Kurosawa in setting up the mood, Loft seemed to present itself like a one trick pony. It beats about the bush, exposing a lack of control with material and suggests cluelessness, and runs out of ideas in moving the story ahead. You'd come to expect certain plot twists, and characters with their ulterior motives, and is plagued by extremely bad editing, which I do not understand how it passed even the basics of quality control. It limps towards the end, and when it finally showed signs of redemption, it shoots itself in the foot with an extremely cheesy ending, bad dialogue which is amazingly spouted by the cast with gusto, and the sudden decision to make this a cheap hokey romance.
Plagued by inconsistencies and bad effects at one point in time (someone should outlaw superimposed backgrounds in those driving shots - go on location for heaven's sake), the movie looks and develops as if it was an amateur at the helm. I suppose I could come up with something of this quality, and for it to be in the filmography of Kurosawa, it is indeed a nasty shock.
All in all, a very dismal effort from the writer-director, one which seemed to be a very rushed effort on the themes of dreams and delusions, coupled with bad one-dimensional acting (either the I'm-so-scared or I'm-so-anal look). Loft is a bad nightmare indeed. Save your money, rent it at the most.