The watery, bloody Dutch suspense thriller “Amsterdamned” (at the Music Hall, with English subtitles) introduces a slight variation on the stalk-and-slash genre: swim-and-slash.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water and lounge on inflatable rafts, and just when you thought it was safe to walk along dark, deserted streets as a prostitute, along comes a mad killer and shark substitute all wrapped into one to make either pastime risky again. Surprise--it’s “Jaws the Ripper.”
And--no surprise--it’s not very good. As wet bodies pockmarked with multiple knife wounds start to pile up alongside the canals of Amsterdam, the local gendarmes are able to discount the Loch Ness Monster as a suspect during the first reel, which leaves us and the police to spend most of the next two hours (yawn) looking for a man in a diving suit carrying a knife.
The chief detective on the trail (handsome, leaden Huub Stapel) has few clues left behind by the mad diver to work with; his boredom leads him to find solace in the arms of a beautiful woman (the less leaden Monique Van De Ven) whose main connection to the case is that she must wind up as a lady-in-distress in the final reel.
If writer-director Dick Maas (“The Lift”) is all too willing to subject us to the routine drudgery of police work through most of the film, he does at least have a homicide detective’s morbid sense of humor down pat: “Any witnesses?” asks one cop of another in a typical exchange. “Only the bag lady,” answers his partner. “Maybe a few fish.”
Speaking of fish, Maas shamelessly dangles a whopper of a red herring before the camera for most of the film, finally bringing the real killer in out of left field at the last possible moment.
That’s just one of the conventions of the genre dutifully followed by Maas, who has crafted a picture as slickly made and soulless as any similar thriller out of Hollywood. (Late in the picture, he even starts throwing in third-rate James Bond action set-pieces, including a speedboat chase through the city canals.) The difference is that a Hollywood director could surely be counted on to bring in this empty a suspense film at a length well under “Amsterdamned’s” interminable 113 minutes.
Like John Carpenter, Maas has generously contributed a cheesy and numbingly repetitious electronic score to his own picture. And it’s almost worth waiting till the end credits to learn that “Amsterdamned” (MPAA-rated R for language and violence) does indeed have a bouncy title song, chirped in English by some European techno-pop diva (sample lyrics: “Amsterdam / This place is damned, damned!”). Attention, Academy Awards show producers: Ann Reinking could do a knockout version of it in the best song medley.