Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Starring: Miki Nakatani, Etsushi Toyokawa, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Yumi Adachi
Duration: 115 min.
Suffering from writer's block and some curious ailments, Reiko, a celebrated writer, moves to a countryside villa at her editor's beckoning to quietly work on her next novel. However, her new environment turns out to be anything but peaceful...
Loft is a Japanese film written and directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa that premiered at the 2005 Pusan International Film Festival. Like much of his previous work, this is a horror film with an incredible dreamlike atmosphere. It moves with a slow and brooding pace, filled with expertly crafted haunting and eerie scenes that cleverly play on the expectations of the audience.
The visuals are stunning, and include some intensely creepy locations, including a mist covered lake and swamp, a remote and decrepit old house, and a seemingly abandoned university facility. The camera moves slowly or not at all, and the scenes are often filmed with the emphasis of doorways, windows, and mirrored reflections in the frame. Contributing to the intense mood of the film is the brilliant soundtrack, subtle and frightening without employing the usual manipulative cues of a horror movie. Quite often the low rumbling music does not even start until just after the scare sequence and this really multiplies the sense of dread.
With all the brilliant setup, the film is sadly let down by both the story and the acting. The plot moves awfully slowly, lacks coherence and frequently switches between what seems like a serious horror and a parody of a horror film, and in the last half even includes a silly and over the top romantic sequence that borders on being hilarious, and would definitely elicit laughter in a crowded cinema. The acting, especially by lead actress Miki Nakatani, is just terrible. With the strange nature of the screenplay, perhaps this was an intentionally bad performance, but this entirely betrays the carefully built atmosphere of the film. One that had great potential to be a masterpiece of modern horror, but instead remains largely forgettable.