Wetlands Director: David F. Wnendt
Cast: Carla Juri, Christoph Letkowski, Meret Becker, Marlen Kruse, Peri Baumeister, Edgar Selge, Harry Baer
SXGlobal | Rommel Film
Not Rated | 109 Minutes
Release Date: March 7, 2014
Directed by David F. Wnendt (Combat Girls), Wetlands is an adaptation of Charlotte Roche’s best-selling novel, Feuchtgebiete. The film stars Carla Juri as Helen Memel, an 18-year-old schoolgirl who spends several days in the hospital to be treated for an anal fissure.
Let’s back up a second. So, this film begins with Helen announcing to the audience that she has had hemorrhoids ever since she can remember. This leads to an opening credits sequence where we are taken on a magical journey through her anus, following her finger into darkness as she applies a dab of anti-itch cream.
We also learn that Helen has an unusual relationship with her body. She abhors personal hygiene and enjoys the bodily fluids which are secreted or excreted from it, including mucus, smegma, menstrual blood, and semen. Helen attracts sexual partners with her unwashed vulva and the smells emanating from it – she even goes so far as to get a little on her fingers and use it as perfume, applying it behind her ears and on her wrists.
Anyway, fast-forward to Helen shaving her entire body, including those most intimate and sensitive of areas. She accidentally cuts into a hemorrhoid while shaving, creating the painful, bacteria-infested anal fissure that lays her up in the hospital.
At the hospital, Helen continuously pushes boundaries, breaking social taboos, and offending almost the entire staff. she meets Robin (Christoph Letkowski), a male nurse who, despite Helen’s war against personal hygiene and all things sanitary, is attracted to her.
Helen sees a chance to reconcile her divorced parents at her sickbed and finds an ally in Robin, who attempts to have them meet at the hospital. To ensure she stays at the hospital longer, Helen sabotages any attempt to allow her anal fissure to fully heal, leading to even more scenes of stomach-churning shitploitation.
Wetlands touches on not only taboo topics in the sexual arena, but also those found in dysfunctional families, like self-mutilation, failed suicide attempts, and incest. Honestly, I’m not sure what to make of this movie. At first I was intrigued by the subject matter, but then the story seemingly took a backseat to shock.
I’ve seen a lot of terrible, gross things in my life – things I’ll never unsee, things that leave me forever unclean – but Wetlands is truly gross and unshakeable in its explicitness. To top it all off, I made a pretty poor decision in ordering food at the Alamo Ritz during this screening.
At one point in the film, Helen relays an urban legend about four pizza guys who ejaculated all over a pizza after a customer pissed them off – which leads right into a fantasy sequence of, you guessed it, four dudes jerkin’ it right over some spinach pizza. Their ejaculate streams forth in slow motion all over the pizza, at which point I noticed an Alamo waiter delivering a pizza to a patron in my row. Poor guy.
I can’t really recommend Wetlands to anyone, but it’s worth seeing if you’re looking to push your own boundaries. Seeing it at SXSW with an audience of bewildered movie nerds at the Alamo Drafthouse is certainly an experience – but I can’t imagine many benefits of viewing Wnendt’s film outside the festival scene.