film review: The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2009)3 Comments
So the other day I mentioned on my own facebook that I was going to take a stab at watching The Human Centipede. Or to give it its full title, The Human Centipede (First Sequence)… apparently the writer/director, Tom Six has plans for a follow up. Anyway, a couple of people asked me to let them know how I got on. I could just reply there but I thought I was better off making this a PSA…
The Human Centipede really is a film whose reputation precedes it. Pretty much everyone who’s watched the trailer or read the synopsis seems to think it’s sick as hell. So, if you’re gonna think less of me just because I’ve watched a sick film or two, you should probably just stop reading now.
You can’t really talk about The Human Centipede without knowing the main thing about it. I can’t imagine there are many people who’ve heard of it who don’t know what it’s about. The poster gives you an idea anyway… Just in case you really haven’t heard though… it’s about this crazy German surgeon who has decided he wants to make a human centipede… That is, he wants to sew a few people together face to arse and see how they get on. Yeah… what a bastard. Naturally, I was curious. I’m a curious person and everyone’s reaction to the idea of the film seemed so extreme that I just felt like I had to see it for myself. You can’t rely on other people’s opinions on this kind of thing…
I guess there is one more thing to say, before I get on to actually telling you what I thought of the film…
What you make of it will entirely rest on whether you’ve seen many films that go out of their way to shock you, and what you thought of them. I guess I’m talking about the full range here, from great films like Antichrist to crappy plotless films like Monster Man or Hostel. If you can’t handle films like these then you’re probably just going to think that The Human Centipede is sick filth and should be banned.
If, on the other hand, you have no problem with those then you might just feel the same way about The Human Centipede as I do.
Which is to say that I thought it was rubbish. The best I can say about it is that there were some nice looking shots in it and the mad surgeon Dr. Heiter (played by Dieter Laser) was good at being a creepy bastard in a B grade horror. Beyond that it had no real redeeming features whatsoever.
You know what, I’m pretty much just gonna tell you about what happens in it. It’s too hard to tell you how crap it is without saying something about the plot… I’ll do ya a deal. I won’t give away the ending. Hope that’s enough.
Anyway, so it all starts badly with the two American girls on a road trip in Germany. Well it’s not the opening scene but it is where it all goes wrong. These were two of the worst acted, most annoying characters I’ve seen in a horror film recently. I guess I shouldn’t have let it get to me, the tourist girls in a horror film tend to be pretty annoying and generally cast for their looks. But I did let it get to me, they were awful. Awful.
In true horror cliché their descent begins with a flat tyre in the forest. All the while they whinge and shriek at each other about whether they should go outside, who they should call, what should they do next… At one point while they were lost in the forest, lamenting away loudly, I turned to my mate and said “I can’t wait till her mouth gets sewn to an arse”. I hated these girls. Fortunately they soon found their way to the surgeon’s house and they didn’t have much to say after that.
Aside from those two there’s a Japanese fella who the doctor kidnaps when he realises his previous acquisition won’t match the girls. Poor Katsuro doesn’t really have much to do except scream in Japanese, he’s not entirely sure what’s going on but the diagrams soon make it clear enough. Lucky for him he does get to head up the centipede. That definitely looks like the best place to be. He’s pretty much a non entity throughout the film – aside from briefly, near the end.
That’s pretty much it for the character introductions. Our victims are completely one dimensional.
Dr Heiter is actually comparatively interesting. In that he has a back story. He is very successful and well-regarded separator of conjoined twins. Good for him. Course, now he’s retired and has apparently gone crazy. It’s not entirely clear why he’s decided he wants to join people together but I assume it’s meant to be some reaction to his previous profession. There doesn’t particularly seem to be a sexual element to it anyway. Thank the lordi. As horrifically unpleasant as that added theme would have been, I’m even more glad because I really don’t think the writer / director or actors would have had the chops to pull it off.
Anyway, as I mentioned, this character was the one bright spot in the film. Dieter Laser is one scary bastard and he does manage to make the doctor believable as opposed to laughable. I shudder to think how much worse this film would have been without him. Ok, ok, he is a bit of a cartoon villain but he’s entertaining and it seems appropriate given what he’s up to.
The real problem with the film is that it really is just plain boring. Boring and stupid. Just one example – One of the girls tries to escape but, because she’s an idiot, as soon as she finds a way out of the doctor’s house, she decides to go back to her drugged up mate. It makes sense because she can obviously carry her and she knows the doctor is incapacitated… oh, no, wait. That’s not the case at all. There’s no reason to go back for her. We don’t even know if they’re good friends, all we saw of them previously was them bitching at each other in the forest. Whatever.
Then there’s the whole gore issue. So the doctor gets the girl back and after some explanation using some overheads, the operation can commence. Then it’s over. You barely see anything. Not that I particularly wanted to see a dude sew someone’s face to another person’s ass, I really didn’t, but from the reputation of the film I would have thought you’d see something. I guess it’s slightly gory here and there but nothing compared to most in the genre. What the hell has everyone been talking about? Honestly. Yes, it’s a manky idea but overall the film just isn’t particularly sick. It’s boring… BORING.
Then the director does the big reveal and there’s nothing left but to watch the doctor trying to train his new centipede. I thought it would become clear then why he’d done it… but no. Just for a laugh as far as I could tell. Pointless.
Ok, at the end there is, what I can only assume is meant to be a shocking climax with some cops and stuff. Personally I just thought the ending all felt a bit rushed which I guess was fine because I didn’t really give a crap any more. I was actually falling asleep a little at this point. It’s not really a bad ending but I didn’t feel the impact that the film was so obviously desperate to create with it. I can’t really think of what else to say about it. I was happy it was finally over?
The truth is The Human Centipede is badly conceived, badly scripted and badly acted film. It absolutely does not deserve the attention that has been paid to it. It’s just another crappy low budget horror film made by a guy who had one shocking idea but no concept of what to do with it. I do believe that people can make whatever shitty films they want to make, but if they put it out there it obviously means I can say whatever the hell I want about it… and I call no-talent hack on this one.
I’m gonna stop short of telling you not to see it. I know if you’re as curious about it as I was then everything I’ve just said won’t stop you. I’d heard it was crap before I saw and I still watched it… and I’m glad I did. I always think it’s worth finding out what the fuss is about. It’s just that in this case it really is much ado about nothing.
In case you’re wondering why it got a 3 rather than a 1. I’m giving it a 3 because, as I mentioned, there were some nicely shot scenes. Also there was one funny scene with another driver on the road in the forest. Also it did make me retch a little bit, so there was an element of job done – but that didn’t really have anything to do with the whole centipede thing. Oh yeah, and it was kind of funny seeing how, most of the time, they kept strategically placing limbs to umm… preserve the girls modesty.