My queues across various streaming services are out of control. Starting this summer I’m going to put a dent in these queues and review the movies that I think are worth writing about.
For a little over an hour, Amsterdamned is a very competent, above-average little-seen slasher. More watchable and creative than many other largely unknown horror flicks, it is the kind of film that die hard genre fans would be happy to find, although it doesn’t quite rise to “hidden gem” status.
For about an hour.
And then a boat sinks, and then that sunken boat is explored, and then there’s a tense underwater encounter, and then there’s one of the best (and most dangerous-looking) boat chases I’ve ever seen, and at that point the movie becomes a gem so bright you wonder how it didn’t shine through whatever has kept it hidden.
Amsterdamned has, for the night at least, stolen my big black horror-loving heart. It is by no means a perfect movie, but what it does well it does almost perfectly.
There isn’t much to the story of Amsterdamned. A killer is on the loose, using the many waterways of Amsterdamn to find victims and make his getaway. It’s a whodunit with a “who cares?” reveal of the killer’s identity. It’s a slasher with fairly gruesome yet largely scare-free kills (save for the aforementioned underwater encounter, which is fantastic). It’s brisk in parts, but a little overlong and a bit repetitive by the end.
But again, what it does well… goodness. The discovery of the first victim involves a bridge, a glass-top tour boat and a boatload of screaming tourists, and ought to be a macabre classic moment of the genre known to most horror cinema fans. The final confrontation is solidly intense as well.
The incredible underwater scene, however (I really can’t praise it enough) that leads to the even better boat chase is good enough to make me wish a local theater would bring it to the big screen. I would pay money to see that in full over-sized glory. Listen, I’m no “CGI sucks” practical effects zealot…but it’s hard to deny that computers have a steep uphill climb when trying to match up with the authentic stunt work.
One problem with digital effects is that they can age. A computerized stunt that looked real enough in 2005 might look fake as hell not even ten years later as technology advances. Meanwhile, an actual boat jumping an actual ramp to evade a pursuer will look like itself in 1988, in 2008, 2028 and so on. Perhaps we’ll reach a technological zenith–maybe even soon–when digital effects will be indistinguishable from the sight of actually seeing speedboats whip around tight corners in a city water channel, coming close to crashing while sending waves of water up onto nearby onlookers. It would certainly make for the ideal marriage of safety and scintillation. But that day is not yet here. And until that day, the stunt work in Amsterdamned, reckless as it is, will be more exhilarating to me than anything even the best CG effects team can muster.
Final Grade: Watch it. Get yourself a Shudder account if you don’t have one already, and watch it.