Movie Review: The Human Centipede (2009)
Not since the brilliant French film Martyrs (2008) has a movie come on the scene, grabbed ya by the throat, and essentially dared ya to watch it without flinching. Let me be clear; this is what was promised with The Human Centipede. Does it deliver? Well out of the two above-mentioned films only one was able to fully deliver on their grandiose promises (I think you know which one).
As the film opens we join Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser, who looks like the bastard love-child of Lance Henriksen and Udo Kier) who is sitting in his car in the shoulder of the road. He’s staring fondly at a picture of a canine centipede in which he joined three dogs to make one long creature. The opening ends by the good doc drugging and kidnapping a fat trucker. Flash to our heroines, Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie); two American tourists traveling across Germany. They’re getting ready to go to a party that is apparently in the middle of nowhere (judging by the roads they’re traveling on). On the way to the party the car gets a flat tire on a very remote road and after an encounter with an older, VERY creepy German guy they decide to walk and find help. Is any of this sounding familiar? It should; it’s the set up for about 1,000 flicks!! But for those of us who’ve heard and read the hype like myself, I’m being patient holding out for the hope of ultimately seeing a really disturbing flick.
I’ll give ya one guess what house they end up at. You got it, the good Dr. Heiter. Laser does a really good job playing Heiter; he’s the one shining performance in this otherwise annoying cast. It’s pretty obvious from the start that there’s something very wrong with Heiter. We learn he’s a world-renowned surgeon who specialized in separating Siamese twins. But now he’s retired and doing “research” in his home lab, and we know that’s never a good sign. He’s obsessed with creating a three segment/person human centipede in which the subjects are connected mouth-to-anus and they share one digestive track. Pretty cool fucking idea that is completely twisted and original. As Lindsay and Jenny wander into his home looking for a phone, Heiter sees this as a windfall opportunity. He already has the fat trucker for the third subject so he does what any good host/mad scientist would do: He slips the girls some roofies, chains them up in his basement operating room and preps them for surgery. It turns out the trucker’s tissue samples didn’t match the girls so he kills him and then kidnaps a Japanese tourist. Perfect match. Oh boy; you can feel it. It’s gonna get good now isn’t it? Eehhh; just keep reading!!
The only really interesting character here is Heiter, and Laser plays it beautifully. Heiter doesn’t look at his prisoners as people; they’re simply subjects to help him with his research and are no different than a lab mouse. It’s also pretty clear that Heiter doesn’t like people and seems to have grown tired of the human race. People, to him, are subjects to be experimented on. And as mentioned above, Laser plays this beautifully. There’s no doubt he’s bat-shit crazy, but what makes him so dangerous is that he’s focused, intelligent, and determined.
The girls, on the other hand, are two of the most annoying female characters I’ve seen in a long time. They do an ok job until they are taken captive. Once bound up the girls become annoying, whining, stupid little twats. During one of history’s most retarded escape attempts, Lindsay makes so much noise you just root for Heiter to capture her. At one point she actually tries to hide UNDER WATER while Heiter stands by the side of the pool. She should run for the mayor of retard town!! There’s not one second during her escape that you think she’ll succeed. I think the main problem is that Lindsay’s “big escape” felt really tagged on; almost like the film was too short so they tacked on the escape scene to pad out the film.
So if you’re like me we all sit through and endure that tagged on escape and terrible female performances with the hopes of getting to see the human centipede. Well ya won’t have to wait long folks; we see the human centipede about 30-40 minutes into the movie. Yup! Heiter explains to his subjects what he’s going to do to them: Remove their teeth, remove the ligaments from their knees, and fix their anuses in order to connect them. Then just as he starts the procedure the scene fades to black and BAM the operation is done; BOOM, we get to see the human centipede. WTF??? Where’s the blood? The gore? All the disturbing images we were promised?? I’m assuming those scenes are on the editor’s floor because we certainly saw nothing. This film, in fact, is pretty blood-less. I’ve seen more blood in defloration videos (yikes; even I think I went too far with that one!!). Then the rest of the flick has Heiter “training” his new pet. What a huge fucking disappointing film people.
Besides writer-director Tom Six blowing his wad way too early and in a most anticlimactic way, the sound quality of the movie is terrible and the pacing is slow and lumbering. After ya realize you’re not gonna see the movie you were promised you quickly lose interest. One tagline for the film is “100% Medically Accurate,” and I think that’s the problem here. The whole thing feels so goddamn clinical that there was no over-the-top gore or mayhem that could have made this really fun. I really doubt this is going to become a cult classic. No way. Bottom line is that there’s actually barely enough material here to fill a short film yet alone a feature length movie. And seriously, if you watch the trailer (which I’m including here below my summary) you will see all the “disturbing” scenes you would see if you watch the entire film. What a HUGE disappointment that besides Dieter Laser’s performance and being an original idea (horribly executed) there’s nothing here to recommend. Apparently there’s already a part two in the works with a 12 segment human centipede. Meh. Skip this one and go watch Martyrs again.
Director: Tom Six (and writer)
Plot: 1 out of 5 for its execution; 4 out of 5 for originality
Gore: 1.5 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer