THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE
Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Dieter Laser, Ashley
C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie, Akihiro Kitamura
Director: Tom Six
Audio: Dolby Stereo
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 92 Minutes
Release Date: October 5, 2010
“What an insane world we live in.”
Film **** (on the Unapologetic Depravity scale)
...all right, that was too brief. I need a few more words to make this a real review. So here goes...The Human Centipede is a movie that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “eat s—t and die”.
...okay, I guess I can't quite get away with leaving it at that, either. I owe our readers a little more. The question is, how much more when it comes to a film like The Human Centipede?
Tom Six is a director who has garnered quite a reputation for himself among horror films, as well as among critics who have found nothing redeemable about his works. His movies were completely unseen by me before now, and if nothing else, I have to say, Mr. Six was successful in creating a motion picture I will never be able to UN-see.
If you haven't already heard what the film is about, sit down. It's a mad scientist movie taken to the extreme when the film's unsettled villain Dr. Heiter (Laser) kidnaps a Japanese businessman (Kitamura) and two bubble-headed American tourists (Williams and Yennie) for a most unnatural experiment in anatomy.
His goal is to create a human centipede, and if you don't know what that is, bless you. Skip ahead if you want to remain blissfully unaware. Seriously, no hard feelings.
Are you still here? Then let's continue...
A human centipede is three people on hands and knees, one in front of the other, and surgically attached together mouth to anus, creating one long (in theory) digestive tract. Food goes in the first person and eventually leaves the third person. I'm praying right now that you get the idea well enough that I don't have to describe what happens to the food in the middle person.
This is either a work of the kind of genius that borders on insanity or complete moral bankruptcy, one or the other. I haven't quite made up my mind. Considering that this film is subtitled “First Sequence” and a “Second Sequence” is already in the works, I guess I'll have more evidence to mull over before rendering a final verdict on Tom Six.
But as a critic who's biggest complaint is that he's seen everything and that there's nothing original offered from the movies anymore, I have to give credit where credit is due...Tom Six has shown me something I've never seen before. I'm not sure whether I want to thank him or slug him, but there's enough appreciation in me for his sheer unabashed chutzpah to give him a somewhat queasy thumbs up.
If I wanted to try an analyze it purely as a movie, and that's no easy task, I would say that apart from the shocking central premise, it follows mostly formulaic lines. You know the whiny American tourists are in for it. You know that a central escape attempt is just to pad the running time and offers no real hope, otherwise the movie wouldn't deliver on its singular promise.
I will say, however, that the ending is most harrowing, possibly the most so of any film of this nature since the first Saw. There are some fates definitely worse than death.
Okay, that's all I have. Can I please move on now? PLEASE??
Oh, thank you. This is a very impressive looking Blu-ray offering from IFC, mostly because unlike so many horror films, much of the film is actually brightly lit, with excellent coloring and sharp, crisp detail. The only real night scene comes across well too, with very little grain and maintaining a sense of integrity. The operating room scenes are washed in an unhealthy looking artificial light that's just right for the impending sense of dread. Nicely done.
It's kind of a mistake to let your menu screens get the benefit of full surround sound when your movie is only in stereo. The contrast is striking. This is an unremarkable but workable audio offering, mixing English, Japanese and German dialogues, and an eerie music score, but no real dynamic range and no real sense of envelopment from the soundtrack. Maybe we'll get a bigger mix for the next sequence. I don't know whether I'm even rooting for that or not.
There is a pleasant commentary from Tom Six, who begins by apologizing for his English...no need, the German director speaks it quite fluently. There is also a short interview with him, a deleted scene, some casting tapes, a behind-the-scenes look, a Foley audio session, the original trailer, and some alternate posters where some artists obviously had a good time with the concept of the movie.
Hopefully by now you've read enough to determine for yourself whether or not you're the right audience for The Human Centipede. At this point, I assume no responsibility for any decision you make regarding this film either way...I did my duty, you're on your own.