The Human Centipede (2009) D: Tom Six

The Human Centipede

From the very start of The Human Centipede, the creepiness of Dr Heiter (Dieter Laser) lets you know what you’re in for. Looking like an emaciated, decaying Christopher Walken, we see him almost fetishising a series of photographs – first two dogs joined from head to anus and then three. The stock standard mise en scène of horror films with wet roads and dark stormy nights follows. In what seems to now be an obligatory nod to Blair Witch, Lindsay and Jenny (Ashley C. Williams and Ashlynn Yennie) are lost in a dense forrest before finding the sprawling home of Dr Heiter – the classic damsel in distress in a storm scenario.

Wasting no time from there, the film gets right into the action before the end of the first act. Having collected a somewhat cartoonish and furious Japanese man (Akihiro Kitamura), Dr Heiter’s stilted, mispronounced and grotesquely rendered English explains the procedure he plans to perform; using diagrams and medical terminology. This is to make use of the much hyped claim the film makes to being ‘100% medically accurate’.

The atmospheric whistle of the storm outside and the constant wailing and moaning from the victims fill what seems like every available second of this film. It is deliberately macabre, yet strangely not too explicit. Much of what happens and what disturbs the viewer is not shown, but implied. Laser’s performance is a trifle hammy, but can be read as true to life madness. And, as urbancinefile noted, you have to admire the performance of the victims who worked without much dialog and while bound together with bandages.

If you’re going to watch this film, you’re not going to be expecting brilliant cinema. You might not even expect a great horror movie. It is what it is, and Roger Ebert’s refusal to even give it zero stars for the first time in his career was always just going to hype it more – a fact he must have known. It certainly isn’t for all tastes, or even many tastes. It’s a film probably best taken lightly, despite the atrocious subject. If there’s a way to enjoy it at all, it’s probably the way you’d snigger nervously at something you found gross. If you let it take you across the line to completely disgusted, it will – and you won’t enjoy that at all.

A twisted, bizarre and filthy piece of kitsch. 2 Stars


~ by mfnm on September 10, 2010.

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