The Human Centipede (First Sequence)
Although I passed on the film at the festival, The Human Centipede is a film that I knew I would get to eventually. I just had to work my way up to a little slower than other horror films. The premise of the film is essentially summed up in the film’s title. The story centers around two American tourist in Germany, Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie), whose car breaks down one night in the middle of woods. Seeking help the women come across the home of Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser), a mad surgeon with a knack for stitching things together. Unbeknownst to Lindsay and Jenny, they are about to become part of Dr. Heiter’s most ambitious experiment to date, the first ever living human centipede.
After finally viewing the film, I can honestly say that the most startling aspect of The Human Centipede is that it is not as graphic as you would expect. This is not to say that the film does not feature some disturbing moments, it does, but it is not as gory as you think it would be. Hearing Dr. Heiter proclaiming “I know definitely you are the middle piece!” is scarier than actually seeing the centipede in action. In many ways the most chilling aspect about the film is idea itself of a human centipede. Just thinking about the logistics of it still makes me squirm.
The performances in the film tend to fall into two groups, extremely over-the-top or adequate enough for the confines of the film. In the first group is Dieter Laser who completely reveals in the absurdity of the premise. Laser plays Dr. Heiter very large and gives the film an almost comedic tone. At the other end of the spectrum, the rest of the cast. Yennie and Williams do everything required to maintain the unsettling tone of the film. Granted their characters are rather one dimensional and, due to how events unfold, their performances rely more on the physical rather than the verbal.
The actor who best transcended the two different performance styles was Akihiro Kitamura. Although his character, Katsuro, does not speak any English in the film, Kitamura gives a performance that makes you actually care about what happens to his character more than the others. The Human Centipede is not the type of film that asks for the viewer’s to care about the characters all. It is more concerned with making the viewer as uncomfortable as possible. To which the film succeeds to a certain extent.
Director Tom Six does have some solid ideas, but do not always come together smoothly. The Human Centipede would have benefitted more had Six played up the cerebral chills. Also, a toned down performance by Laser would have helped in making the film scarier. In the end, The Human Centipede is a film whose premise is far more chilling than what actually appears on screen. I must admit though, after viewing the film, I am very curious to see how the sequel will unfold?
The Human Centipede is part of our "The Must See List" series.