Sunday, 30 June 2013
The Human Centipede (2010).
I heard about the buzz for this film a few months before release. Friends were telling me how disturbing and gruesome it was, so as you can expect, my expectations for The Human Centipede (First Sequence) were set incredibly high. It was praised in magazines and on the net as one of the most disgusting and disturbing pieces of horror cinema in a long time. As people who have seen the film would understand, I came away disappointed and let down. While the idea is disturbing, the execution of the movie comes off as little more than a mad scientist movie, with very little character development or violence.
Two American women visit Germany, and are ready to party hard, when unfortunately they find themselves in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire. The girls head to a remote house for help, only to find it occupied by Dr. Heiter, who promptly drugs the women and uses them for his insane experiment, to create a human centipede by linking three bodies together, via mouth to anus, to create a creature with a singular digestive tract.
It seems The Human Centipede isn't interested in scaring the viewer. It seems to be more interested in creating a sense of revulsion in the viewer and showing mental degradation. The camera constantly lingers on the people who have been turned into the human centipede, showing their fear, their pain and their cries of agony and disgust. The movie seems to revel in the idea of torment, with Dr. Heiter rejoicing when the centipede has to defecate. The acting is sufficient all round, with Dr. Heiter being played especially well, with a calm and calculated calmness and arrogance. The other actors/actresses in the film do little more than act scared and cry and whimper, but it certainly works to the films advantage that they are so emotional, making the viewer really feel their desperation to escape from the situation they have unwillingly been put into.
For people expecting a gore fest, this film has very little gore, and even the surgical scenes are very restrained. The movie does toy with controversy in an interesting way, punishing the viewer with the suffering of the characters and the madness of Dr. Heiter. The sole reason The Human Centipede exists is to provoke a reaction from it's viewers. Casual horror fans may indeed be disgusted by what they see on screen, but anyone who has seen more than one underground horror movie will certainly not be impressed by the films restraint.
If you hear about this film, I wouldn't blame the viewer for thinking it would be played out like some B-movie joke fest, but the director (Tom Six) plays the film completely straight, devoid of any humor which even though you may want to laugh at some of the situations, they come across as rather disturbing, and that makes you second guess your reactions to what is going on in the movie. It is very possible this movie will divide audiences for years to come, with some finding it offensive and disturbing, and others finding it laughable and silly. Unfortunately for me, The Human Centipede does not deserve the acclaim it is given. It isn't graphic, doesn't push any boundaries of cinema and it isn't really shocking or scary in any way. The idea is gruesome, but the execution falls flat, and doesn't feature any extremity whatsoever, and that was what I found most disappointing.