Posted on 6/28/11 12:40 AM
Ahh yes, The Human Centipede. No doubt you have at least heard of this disgusting, graphic depiction of an ER patient's worst nightmare, but few have really seen it (or at least been able to stomach all 90 minutes of it). For the few thousand of you that have heard of the film, there's a few hundred that have seen part of it, a few dozen that have seen it all, and about Six of you that have realized that it is, indeed, a film (Six being capitalized as an allusion, by the way). It's not like "Monsturd" or "Ghost in a Teeny Bikini;" The Human Centipede is an actual horror film with very little humor, camp or lack thereof, at any given moment.
Yes, the premise seems silly, and overall the film does feel a bit preposterous. While actually watching, however, you'll tend to forget how funny and joke-worthy the concept is because you'll be drawn in to what is actually a tremendously engaging, psychologically torturing thriller-horror film from director Tom Six. Of course, the film is gross, but graphically gory this film is not! Your imagination is put to great use in scenes where you might think the most horrific spectacles would be occurring.
Yet, despite how strongly I'm trying to convince you that this film should be taken as a serious horror film, the acting is laughably atrocious at most parts. This is, of course, completely foregoing Dieter Laser as the German Dr. Heiter, who steals the show in every scene. Then again, if you know anything about the film, you'll realize that half the main cast will have a hard time getting words out... considering the predicament surrounding their speaking orifices.
What you'll have to grasp before really delving into this film is, beyond its shallow gimmick and over-the-top premise, there lies an above-average horror flick. It has all the regular makings of what most of us would consider a decent "horror" (stupid American girls, machinery nonsensically ceasing to work, creepy antagonist, an Asian), and by typical genre conventions it definitely passes. What it lacks in story (and logically sound mentality) it more than makes up for with a fantastic villain and pure, giddy, suspense-ridden uneasiness. A good chunk of this uneasiness isn't even from the biological terror; it's just plain creepy. Dr. Heiter is, quite frankly, psychotic. Combine this wonderful psychosis with a brilliant ego maniacal "genius" mentality, and you have all the makings of villainy in German form. The extremely dehumanizing acts he forces his victims to perform and his complete lack of sympathy shine him in the perfect horror-villain light.
Unfortunately, he's not utilized to the best of his ability. I was on the fence for a while, debating with myself whether or not he worked better as a short, sweet villain or a crazed but well characterized antagonist who could've been explored much deeper and physically used much more creatively. I ended up landing on the latter, and you'll see what I mean by the end of the film. Aside from Dr. Heiter, however, there's a lot left to be desired when it comes to the other characters. They make ridiculously stupid decisions here and there, especially Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura) at one pivotal point in the film. There's also a very restricted soundtrack here, so what you hear is all diegetic atmosphere. Mm mmmm.
The film also doesn't have your D-grade "jump out" scare tactics that stupid movies like to use. Its gross-out factor is certainly there, and you wouldn't be watching the film if it weren't for that. But luckily, the disgust level never devolves into stupidity like segments of Hostel or Saw do all too often. The film is just enough raunchy mayhem, and although it's definitely disturbing, that's exactly what it's aiming for. After watching, you can say you dislike the movie because it was "gross" or made you queasy, but that's like saying you disliked The Hangover because it made you laugh. A film like The Human Centipede has clear intentions, and when those intentions succeed, you have to give the film credit. There's nary a moment where you'll say "this is just ridiculous" because it just won't degrade to that level.
So yes, I recommend The Human Centipede if you're looking for a deviant to the monotonous garbage of Hollywood horror flicks being churned out every few weeks. It's fun, it's different, and it's suspenseful. It achieves everything it wants to, and while it's not perfect in any regard and won't win chains of awards for anything in particular, it's not the "stupid torture porn" you may be expecting.