Saturday, April 1, 2023

AmnesiA (2001) (Cult Epics 2-Disc Limited Edition Blu-ray Review with Screenshots)

2-Disc Limited Edition Blu-ray 

Label: Cult Epics

Region Code: Region-Free 
Rating: Unrated 
Duration: 101 Minutes 
Audio: Dutch LPCM 2.0 Stereo, DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround, Dutch LPCM 2.0 Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.66:1) 
Director: Martin Koolhoven
Cast: Fedja van Huêt, Carice van Houten, Sacha Bulthuis, Theo Maassen

Amnesia (2001) is the first feature written and directed by Dutch filmmaker Martin Koolhoven (Brimstone), it's a mystery-thriller with a deep vein of black humor. In it pic-blocked photographer Alex (Fedja van Huêt, Speak No Evil) is summoned to return to his childhood home to help care for his ailing mother (
Sacha Bulthuis) by his estranged twin-sibling Aram (a terrific dual-role by Huêt). He reluctantly obliges and unexpectedly arrives with Sandra (Carice van Houten, Game of Thrones), a pyromaniac stranger who just appeared in the backseat of his car and invited herself along. Meanwhile low-level gangster Aram comes home with his gut-shot pal Wouter (Theo Maassen, Black Book), having just apparently committed some sort of criminal enterprise that did not go as planned. 

We learn that Alex has not been home since his father's suicide years earlier, and that he and his brother not only have a strong distaste for each other but share a dark secret  that has deeply affected them both, but the film takes it's sweet time getting to all of that. Now under the same roof for the first-time in years their personalities clash, and throughout we get hints dropped by Aram as well as Alex's own flashbacks to the past about the secrets (of the shared and not-so-shared variety) that are slowly bubbling to the surface in this twin-sibling psychodrama-comedy. I thought this is a pretty terrific watch, it has vibes on a 90's indie thriller with a dark streak of Dutch humor, definitely along the lines of something like Danny Boyle's Shallow Grave and other indie dark psychological thrillers from the 90. Alex is introverted and damaged while Aram is more extroverted and antagonistic, they're like battery acid and Evian water and do not mix well. In the middle of it all we have their ailing mother who is on the decline, reminding me a bit of Shawn's mom from Shawn of the Dead, she's aloof but kind-hearted, and then there's lovely Sandra, a beauty who proves to be a point of contentious desire between the twin siblings, played quite wonderful and off-kilter by the lovely van Houten. If you like dark comedy thrillers and enjoy that special brand of quirky Dutch humor this delivers the goods; not all the loose threads are tied-up at the end, there's still some mystery left undigested at the end, but it's a stylish, brooding, and attractively lensed film that explores the dark underbelly of twin-siblings and the cost of the secrets they keep. On top of that there's some multiple women peeing (a director kink?), impromptu burials and some odd near incestual humor to chew on, so jump in on this and give it a spin, I don't think you'll be disappointed. 

Audio/Video: AmnesiA (2001) arrives on region-free Blu-ray from Cult Epics in 1080p HD widescreen (1.66:1), sourced from a 4K HD scan/restoration from the original camera negative. It's a terrific looking image with warm colors, good color-saturation, and pleasing depth and clarity, well-managed grain and rich texturing. Audio comes by way of Dutch LPCM 2.0 Stereo, DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround  on the main feature, both are clean and well-balanced, there's no issues with hiss, distortion or sibilance.  

New extras on the first disc include a brief 1-min Introduction by Martin Koolhoven (in English) an Audio Commentary by Martin Koolhoven and Fedja van Huet, moderated by Peter Verstraten (in English) and the 45-min A Conversation with Martin Koolhoven & Carice van Houten (2022) (in English) in which the director and star reminisce about the making of the film. Archival extras include a 38-min Making of AmnesiA (2001), a 1-min Behind-the-Scenes with Carice van Houten (2001), and the 2-min Theatrical Trailer, plus a handful of Cult Epics Trailers.  

Disc two, also a Blu-ray, features a pair of film from director Martin Koolhoven that were made-for-TV, We have the 55-min Dark Light (Duister Licht) (1997) and the 85-min Suzy Q (1999), which is cool, this one release contains the first 3 films from Koolhoven. Suzy Q is concerns a rock n roll obsessed young woman (van Houten) in the 60's while Dark Light is a creepy snowbound thriller about a thief who breaks into the wrong farmhouse and finds himself at the mercy of it's occupant - both are solid watches and great value-adds. We also get a selection of Cult Epics Trailers. The 2-disc Limited Edition version arrives in a clear keepcase with a Reversible Sleeve of Artwork, the reverse side featuring the artwork for the TV films. We also get a Limited Edition Slipcover featuring unique artwork by Peter Strain. 

Special Features: 
Disc 1: Blu-ray 
- 4K HD Transfer (from the original camera negative) and Restoration
- Introduction by Martin Koolhoven (1 min) 
- Audio Commentary by Martin Koolhoven, Fedja van Huet, moderated by Peter Verstraten
- A Conversation with Martin Koolhoven & Carice van Houten (2022) (46 mins) 
- The Making of AmnesiA (2001) 38 mins
- Behind-the-Scenes with Carice van Houten (2001) (1 min) 
- Theatrical Trailer (2 min) 
- Cult Epics Trailers: Death Laid An Egg (4 min), Naked Over the Fence (4 min), Pastorale 1943 (2 min), The Debut (3 min), Frank & Eva (2 min), Blue Movie (2 min) 
Disc Two: Blu-ray 
- Bonus TV Film by Martin Koolhoven: Suzy Q (1999) (85 min)
- Bonus TV Film by Martin Koolhoven: Dark Light (Duister Licht) (1997) (55 min)
- - Cult Epics Trailers: Death Laid An Egg (4 min), Naked Over the Fence (4 min), Pastorale 1943 (2 min), The Debut (3 min), Frank & Eva (2 min), Blue Movie (2 min) 
- New Slipcase Artwork by Peter Strain
- Reversible Sleeve of Artwork with Original Bonus Film Posters 

Cult Epics deliver another tasty Dutch treat for fans of melancholic psychodramas and dark hearted comedies, well-acted, handsomely shots and well-staged - a definite recommend. 

Screenshots from the Cult Epics Blu-ray: