‘The Human Centipede’...uh, where do I begin? I begin with the hype around this movie, which is huge, mainly because of the premise of the film. My friend called me and told me to watch the trailer, and I admit, I was intrigued. It was just so gross – how could anyone not be? It’s like looking at a car accident or something. The trailer made me feel sick (and that takes a lot, considering all the horror movies I’ve seen.) It freaked me out, reminiscent of David Cronenberg’s work, its body horror, and body horror freaks me out. Anyways, I watched it.
The film starts out pretty much “seen it all before”, two attractive young girls (Ashley C. Williams and Ashlynn Yennie) break down in the middle of nowhere and seek help by walking through deserted woods in Germany. Not really very smart of them, but as their dialogue and actions tell you, they’re not very smart. They knock on the door of mad scientist, Dieter Laser, who is interested in creating a human centipede. What’s that? I hear you ask, well, if you don’t already know – it’s where the crazy Doctor (there’s a lot of them around actually) wants to sew them together, mouth to anus, to a Japanese guy (Ashihiro Kitamura) to create a human centipede connected by a common digestive tract. They’ll basically be eating the faeces of the person in front. They won’t be able to walk, only crawl, because the Doctor does in their kneecaps. Who thinks this stuff up?
Okay, that premise is good, it’s original and it’s very, very twisted. The problem is, all the film really has to scare the audience for an hour and a half is that premise, and even after the operation is completed, you never really see anything. You don’t see any horrific operation sequence, and you can’t see how the three are connected because they have bandages around their faces and buttocks – so it’s all placed in the viewer’s mind; which was admittedly, enough for me to deal with. I found myself questioning why I was making myself sit through this film several times, as it is disturbing. Because even though the story is gross and quite comical, it’s also really freaky and cruel. The acting is terrible, the plot-holes are constant and ridiculous, but it’s still disturbing to watch three people crawling around, being treated like a dog, and being held prisoner. The obvious connection made by writer and director, Tom Six, is that of Hitler and the experiments that were carried out in concentration camps.
On the poster, the film brags that it is “100 % medically accurate”, that didn’t really make me feel much better, and this is of course “100% a load of nonsense” – as parts B and C of the centipede could not live on faeces, even with a drip. Some parts are obviously true, such as grafting someone’s buttocks to someone’s face. Yes, I’m aware how ridiculous that last sentence is .
The biggest failure of the film is the dialogue, the characters literally comment on only what is happening on screen most of the time, in a Valley girl accent too. “OmiGod Lindsay, the car’s broken down.”
“OmiGod Jenny, we’re out in the middle of nowhere!” And so on, to an almost comical level.
The girls characters aren’t developed enough at all, we don’t know anything about them, and it makes it hard to care about them beyond the simple response to seeing anyone succumb to that gruesome fate. The Japanese male character, Katsuro, is introduced while he’s unconscious, and we’re offered nothing of who he is until a ridiculous speech is made at the end of the movie regarding his life. Plus, I couldn’t really judge his dialogue skills, as he speaks in Japanese with subtitles, as does the surgeon speak German. The subtitles work quite well to drive home what’s happening to the audience, as we’re forced to look at the screen to find out what’s going on. Plus, if they couldn’t act, it helped.
Dieter Laser is actually really creepy as the German surgeon, his face conveys pure evil, and he’s scary mostly by virtue of what he’s trying to achieve. He does slightly over-act, but he’s mad, so that’s okay.
One really terrifying scene is when all three victims wake up to find themselves in a makeshift surgery room, with the surgeon explaining in great detail what he’s going to do to them – a great scene. The main stand out scene of the film comes soon after, and is also its biggest let down; this scene involves Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) trying to escape. The scene is really tense, and C. Williams actually shows some strong acting skills here. It’s also a let down for several reasons, firstly, Lindsay has locked herself in a bedroom with a phone. I can see the phone, everyone can see the phone!!! Apparently, Lindsay can’t though. She then has a superb chance of escape, I mean, the girl could have stopped off for food and still made it to the cops, but what does she decide to do? Lindsay decides to go back into the basement, drag her unconscious gal-pal up the stairs, through the house and halfway across the back garden before getting a tranquilizer in the back. Jeez!
The first hour of the film, however badly acted, is still very tense and contains very disturbing psychological scenes. It’s just such a shame that the second half of the film drifts nowhere until we reach the predictable, if ridiculously unrealistic end scene.
No matter the film’s faults though, it’s definitely original, and definitely one to watch. I spent a lot of the first hour hiding behind a pillow at just the thought of what was going to happen. I would never watch it again, but it has to be seen to be believed. A sequel is being filmed now with twelve victims “attached.”