Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"The Human Centipede: First Sequence" (2009)

Starring Dieter Laser, Ashley C. Williams and Ashlynn Yennie
Written and directed by Tom Six

I vowed for a long time never to watch this film.  I'd heard rumblings of it over the past months, and eventually looked it up to see what it was about and was thoroughly, flat-out disgusted by its premise.  "The Human Centipede" features what I can easily say is the most repulsive idea for a movie that I've ever heard.  I didn't want to watch it, I never wanted to watch it.  I could easily go my entire life without having watched it.

But beer and pretty girls are like kryptonite. 

"The Human Centipede" is the grotesque story of two American tourists, Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie) who get lost in the woods in Germany on their way to a party.  Their car suffers a flat tire, and like many horror movie protagonists before them, they head off in search of help.  Unfortunately for them (and for us) they come across the home of Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser) a world-renowned surgeon specializing in the separation of conjoined (Siamese) twins.  Only now, in his twilight years, Heiter has become psychotically obsessed with creating them instead of separating them.  Lindsay and Jenny find themselves drugged, and wake up strapped to hospital beds in Heiter's basement, along with a Japanese man Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura) and Heiter determines the three are an appropriate tissue match.

Heiter explains to the three what he plans on doing: he's going to sew them together, ass to mouth, in a row to create a "human centipede."  And whichever one of them ends up in the middle will suffer the worst.  Unfortunately, this ends up being Lindsay after she manages to escape briefly and causes Heiter quite some trouble to recapture her.  With all three now sewn together, Heiter begins the next phase of his terrible experiment: training his creation to be his new pet.  But when a couple of detectives arrive to investigate the disappearances in the neighborhood, Heiter finds his work in jeopardy, and he'll do anything to protect it.

"The Human Centipede" is fucking disgusting.  And not because of any truly explicit imagery.  In fact, in terms of its visuals, the film is downright tame compared to the idea of what is going on.  The film banks its entire effect on the audience on its concept.  It's not even a good movie, but like a deadly train wreck, it's impossible to ignore when it's right in front of you. 

The protagonists spend much of the film screaming (muffled or otherwise), so their performances are a bit of a wash... but we suffer in listening to them, so I suppose its effective.  The only real kind of filmic criticism I can give to the acting in "Human Centipede" is that Dieter Laser is twisted and psychotic as Dr. Heiter, cold and methodical to a T, but easily provoked into violent rages.  But like the film, his character is one-note.  We're never given any indications as to why he's become so deranged and obsessive, why he would consider doing such a thing to three innocent people.  These tourists are not being punished for sins in their pasts, at least not actively so by Heiter - they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and had compatible tissues for surgery. 

So the only thing "Human Centipede" has going for it is that premise.  It sells the entire movie, which is ultimately slow-moving and even downright boring at times.  But that premise casts a spell of utter dread over the entire film.  The movie is only about 90 minutes long, but it feels twice that.

I know I said I would never watch this movie.  But I did.

I even said I wouldn't watch the sequel that's now in development.  But... sadly, I probably will. 

...Damn it.