Feb 8, 2015


Among the countless negative and largely Hollywood-propagated stereotypes about Germans ranging from them being born genocidal mass murderers to boorish yet humorless hotheads who don’t know how to take a joke, scat fetishism seems to be one of the more unflattering perceptions that the ausländer has regarding the Teutons and the somewhat recent punk-powered German ‘cuming-of-age’ flick Feuchtgebiete (2013) aka Wetlands directed by David Wnendt (Kleine Lichter, Combat Girls) certainly does nothing to contradict this rather unfortunate stereotype. Luckily for Germans, the film is based on a 2008 novel written by a stupid China-doll-like British TV presenter/actress named Charlotte Roche, but unfortunately for the Germans, they are the ones the lapped up the book, which was originally written in German, and made it a spectacular unexpected best-seller in the Fatherland, hence it's adaptation into a feature film. The superlatively and pathologically scatological story of a less than hygienic 18 year-old bourgeois-bred punk rock tomboy with a bad case of hemorrhoids who derives fetishistic pleasure from wiping her unkempt unclad cunt on dirty public toilet seats and who is left hospitalized after slicing open her rectum while shaving in a preposterously careless fashion, Wetlands—a work that predictably takes its title from the self-lubricating feminine nether-region—is unquestionably the most overtly grotesque, intentionally and idiotically shocking, and compulsively classless film ever made about a troubled teenage girl that is attempting to find her place in this cold, dark, and unforgiving world. As demonstrated by his previous feature Kriegerin (2011) aka Combat Girls—a film from the American History X (1998) school of filmmaking in regard to its obscenely one-dimensional approach to looking at neo-Nazi skinhead subcultures—director Wnendt seems to have a dubious fondness for crude unladylike teenage chicks with ludicrously outmoded haircuts and horrible taste in men and music and in Wetlands, the filmmaker takes this fetish to ungodly extremes by putting a statuesque Nordic beauty that was given an unbecoming makeover that makes her look like she was run over by a short bus driven by a group of meth-addled Riot grrrls in the most compromised, unflattering, and oftentimes literally crap-covered of situations. Seemingly inspired by Church of Satan founder Anton Szandor LaVey’s book The Satanic Witch (1971) aka The Compleat Witch, or What to Do When Virtue Fails, the angst-ridden aberrosexual anti-heroine of Wnendt’s proudly wanton film keeps her eponymous genitals dirty and unwashed so that she can subconsciously seduce male (and sometimes female) prey whose cum (or what she lovingly describes as “my sex-souvenir candy”) she lets dry on her hand after erotic excursions so that she can lick it off later as a sort of post-sex dessert. A curious combination of gross-out humor and dark (melo)drama that does not quite work and practically begs to be taken seriously as if such a degeneracy-driven work can be taken seriously, Wetland is ultimately like a more juvenile and autistic take on the tragicomedic films of Teutonic auteur Oskar Roehler (Agnes and His Brothers, Atomised aka The Elementary Particles), albeit minus the semi-serious social commentary regarding Germany and German history. Indeed, the only thing that Wnendt lets the viewer know about contemporary Germany with his film is that the country is more of a culture toilet now than it was during the Weimar era despite the fact there is no economic depression like during the post-WWI years and that there is no way in hell the decadent bourgeoisie would ever embrace something like National Socialism again. Like an autistic kraut Amélie (2001) sodomized by a cum-crusted The 400 Blows (1959) and directed by the artistically ungifted and culturally retarded bastard progeny of Jörg Buttgereit and Lena Dunham, Wetlands is an admittedly sometimes entertaining sick joke at the expense of all of German cinema history. 

 Due to the fact that her hyper-neurotic mother is an OCD-ridden ‘neat freak’ who thinks that human pussies are the most putrid and unsavory things in the world, Wetlands protagonist Helen Memel (Swiss-German actress Carla Juri of Frauke Finsterwalder’s Finsterworld (2013)) has developed an acute hatred of personal hygiene to the point we she derives complete ecstasy from rubbing her festering young cuntlet back and forth across dirty public toilet seats, with the protagonist even proudly remarking her preferred potties, “the dirtier the toilet, the better,” as if she hopes to catch some hip and trendy STD, or at least vaginitis. In the self-satisfying hope of attracting prospective mates who do not mind mating with a somewhat deranged debutante with extra naughty bits, Helen tries to keep her venerable monosyllable reasonably unclean and unwashed to the point where it smells like “cottage cheese.” To make sure her young yet hardly underused snatch smells rotten enough throughout the day, Helen regularly drives her fingers in her gash and then takes a lick as if she is a culinary artist testing out her latest recipe. Aside from her own prick-purse, Helen is also intrigued by other girls’ prick-purses and oftentimes uses her sub-homely overweight friend Corinna (Marlen Kruse) as a sordid source of Sapphic sensual splendor. Indeed, aside from sampling Corinna’s seemingly pungent cunt secretions, Helen also trades her used tampons with her friend so that the two can become so-called “blood sisters,” even when the feminine hygiene product looks so soaked in sanguine fluids that they look teabags used by vampires and surely something that would give someone toxic shock syndrome (in fact, at one point in the film, Corinna gets Helen's tampon stuck in her vag and her friend has to use forceps to pull it out). Although she used to date a death metal drummer who derived sexual pleasure from her defecating on his chest, Corinna has moved up in the romance world and is now dating a dopey half-braindead drug dealer named Michael (Bernardo Arias Porras) who seems like he has been to one too many Phish concerts. As for Helen, she is more of a random erotic encounter kind of girl and prefers not knowing the name of the random guy who’s dried up ejaculate she has just licked off her crusty fingers.  Luckily for Helen, she will soon meet a somewhat older pansy boy that she can maker her own personal bitch.

 There are a number of reasons why Helen—an upper-middleclass girl that has never known poverty yet dresses like a homeless gutter punk—is so irreparably screwed up, but the most obvious source of her fetish for bodily fluids (which, aside from cum and pussy juice, also include pus, smegma, blood, menstrual blood, etc.) and virtually anything else that is foul is her emotionally invalid bat-shitty crazy mother (Meret Becker of Margarethe von Trotta’s Das Versprechen (1995) aka The Promise), who arrested her daughter's emotional development when she was just a wee little girl and has made her hate her somewhat privileged class background. When Helen was just a little girl, her mother let her fall to the grown and hurt herself instead of catching her as a lesson to, “Trust no one. Not even your parents.” Helen certainly took that lesson to heart as she decided to have herself sterilized as soon as she turned 18 so that there would be no way to continue her fucked family female line.  As Helen makes quite clear, everyone single woman in her family going back to at least her grand-grandmother was not quite right in the head, so degenerate genetic inheritance is more or less guaranteed in her family with each subsequent generation.  Notably, for her seventh birthday, Helen’s mother gave her a DVD copy of Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968), thus reflecting her warped sense of motherhood. Indeed, Helen’s unsanitary and surely self-destructive sexuality is unquestionable symbolic of her decision not to reproduce. 

 Not long after her little brother Toni (Ludger Bökelmann) was born when she was only 8-years-old, Helen’s parents got divorced and ever since then she has attempted to find creative ways to get her parents together even though they hate one another. When Helen suffers a serious anal fissure after shaving her rectum in a rather careless fashion (indeed, while it might seem unlikely that someone like the protagonist would shave in the first place, Helen apparently developed a fetish for shaving after allowing a swarthy towel-head named ‘Kanell’ to ritualistically shave her snatch), she is hospitalized as an impatient in a proctological ward so she can have her bunghole repaired, so she attempts to use the opportunity as a way to get her parents together, but as the protagonist soon learns, her progenitors have much more important things to do than visit her because she has a mere self-butchered butt-hole. While in the hospital, Helen develops a crush for a blond beta-male nurse with the fitting girly name Robin (Christoph Letkowski) who does not seem to be too grossed out upon seeing the protagonist’s protruding swollen asshole as demonstrated by the fact that he takes a picture of it on his cellphone. In fact, Helen finds Robin to be so cute that she masturbates under her sheet while he is rolling her back to her room on a stretcher after surgery.  Since Robin is a passive beta bitch who seems close to retarded when it comes to talking to and seducing girls, Helen naturally has to initiate sexual acts with him, which she does by telling salacious stories about having lesbo sex with fat hookers, among other things.  After having surgery to have her anal fissure fixed, Helen is told by the doctor that she has to go home as soon as she has her first successful bowel movement, so she pretends to not have defecated for a couple days even though she wakes up one day completely covered in her own liquid feces from head to toe. When the doctor eventually tells Helen that she has to leave, she absurdly decides to drive her newly repaired rectum into a metal post on her bed, thus causing her to sustain a serious injury that requires emergency surgery.

 As Wetlands makes quite clear in a series of flashbacks, both of Helen’s parents are emotionally negligent self-absorbed buffoons who lack even the most rudimentary parenting skills. While her mother is a whackjob with the nurturing skills of a speed-addicted psychopath who incessantly changes religions like someone changes their wardrobe, Helen’s father (Axel Milberg of Tom Tykwer’s The International (2009) and von Trotta’s Hannah Arendt (2012)) is an annoyingly extroverted engineer who is more interested in his latest much younger whore girlfriend than his own daughter.  Helen describes her father's proclivity towards acting like a boorish jackass as being the result of a large ego that he obtained from having both a sizable dong and bank account.  As the film eventually reveals, Helen’s parents got a divorce after her crazed mother tried to kill herself and little baby brother Toni by sleeping with their heads inside a gas oven, which the protagonist walked in on when she was just 8-years-old.  Indeed, Helen might be one cracked cunt but her lack of sanity in sanitary matters pales in comparison to her mother’s all-encompassing mental derangement. On top of trying to kill herself and her baby son, Helen’s mother also does unhinged things like beat her daughter's pet rat to death by swinging against a wall in a garbage bag, as well as flash her old beaver off in front of a dozen or so dinner guests after getting mad at her husband at a dinner party. Of course, in the end, Helen’s parents don’t get back together again (any man that would get back with a woman who attempted to kill their child would have to be insane himself) and there is not sort of redemption for the anti-heroine, but she does get herself a new cute cuckold male nurse boyfriend. 

 Not surprisingly, the source novel written by Charlotte Roche that Wetlands is based on has been described as “cleverly marketed pornography” by its detractors and as “erotic literature” by its fans. While I cannot say that I have read the book and certainly never plan to, I can say that it's authoress seems like a terribly ditzy dame who, judging by her remarks in interviews, seems to derive great pleasure from writing about what can only be described as highly personalized and fetishized toilet humor. In various old videos of Roche interviewing rock stars, she comes off as hopeless moronic and in one interview with Marilyn Manson it seems as if she would love nothing more than to dine on the would-be-antichrist-superstar’s limp dick. Of course, Wetlands seems much like its source writer as an unsophisticated and mundanely morally bankrupt collection of fetishes and pathologies that would gross-out most rampantly heterosexual man and turn-on disgusting dykes and male cucks that get off to being degraded by domineering dames. Indeed, judging by her normal real-life appearance, star Carla Juri really got the ultimate anti-makeover for the film, as if director Wnendt was attempting to make her as unappealingly tomboyish as possible to appeal to a personal fetish of his own (Juri's character certainly does not resemble Roche in any way). Aside from possibly inspiring a couple stupid and impressionable teenage girls to contract an STD or two, Wetlands is ultimately a largely harmless and strangely 'cutesy' film that is not much more than the cinematic equivalent of a book on fart jokes or an early John Waters film, albeit minus the signature queer irony and with better production values. Admittedly, when I finished watching the film, I could not help but think about how banal scat humor can get after being reamed in your face for 105 minutes or so. Indeed, after the first ten minutes or so, Wetlands becomes a sort of tedious game of anti-wit where the film seems to try to incessantly one-up itself in terms of celluloid grotesquery but never quite succeeds, sort of like a junky attempting in vain to regain the majesty of their first high.  Undoubtedly one of my favorite scenes in the film was a sort of (anti)homage/spoof of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) centering around a couple ugly middle-aged pizza delivery guys involved in a circle jerk where they collectively cum on a pizza in a scenario that will certainly cause Kubrick purists to piss their panties.  Undoubtedly, seeing Kubrick's reaction to such a scene would probably be more entertaining than the film itself.  A sort of aberrant after school special from anti-hygienic punk princess hell, Wetlands not only proves that the German bourgeoisie is more rotten and repugnant than Fassbinder ever thought it was, but is also probably one of only a handful of films that can be used by overprotective mothers to deter their teenage sons from attempting to get into the piss-stained panties of young punk girls.  If you ever wondered what kind of film Georges Bataille might have directed had he had a festering lather-maker and the mind of a perversely promiscuous teenage philistine girl who worships her own pussy juice, Wnendt's wantonly retarded wonder work might be for you.

-Ty E

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