An MTV-generation dose of nihilistic club culture, drugs, sex, high-decibel dance music and psychedelic visuals, "Wasted!" turns a flimsy moral tale of a country girl being led astray in the big city into a trippy bombardment of sound and images. While its energy and in-your-face technical accomplishments initially command attention, this first commercial effort by Netherlands-based maverick Ian Kerkhof is all flash and no flesh, ultimately causing its impersonal approach and mostly venal characters to pall. Still, the aggressively hip production might muster an audience among modish Euro youth. Fresh from the provinces, 21-year-old Jacqueline (Fem van den Elzen) works in an Amsterdam shop selling soft designer drugs and rave party tickets. Against the advice of her unemployed lover, Martijn (Tygo Gernandt), she starts dealing pills for sleazy shark JP (Hugo Metsers III), who steers her into bed with a far from gentle hand. Resentful of Jacqui's sudden success, of the stream of parasites invading their apartment and, above all, of her trysts with JP, Martijn moves out.
Jacqui’s clientele includes girlfriends DD (Afke Reijenga) and Yoyo (Jorinde Moll), an amoral duo who convince her to loan them money from the shop’s proceeds to finance their recording of a dance track. DD also makes moves on club king DJ Cowboy (Thom Hoffman), whom she milks for knowledge and contacts before usurping his role as ruler of the turntables and kicking him aside.
The facile plot comes to a head with a series of increasingly violent clashes during a monster rave party at which overnight sensations DD and Yoyo are performing. Her eyes opened by Martijn’s exit and by an especially sordid bedroom session with JP, Jacqui decides to pay her debts and extricate herself from the circuit. But while DD and Yoyo conveniently forget having borrowed the cash, unforgiving store-owner Winston (Mike Libanon) has a better memory.
For all its cooler-than-thou cynicism, “Wasted!” is rather conventionally wholesome at heart, from the central love story, with Jacqui and Martijn’s inevitable reunion, to her purification through calling the cops to turn in her evil, drug-peddling boss.
Kerkhof, who has won a following with his often highly confrontational video and experimental film work, appears to try to camouflage the limits of the script and its two-dimensional characters with relentless visual distractions. The film was shot with digital video cameras, then edited digitally before being blown up to 35mm. The use of color saturation, a dizzying, mainly hand-held shooting style, frenetic editing and sound split into complex multiple tracks merges musicvideo and experimental aesthetics to dynamic but alienating extremes.