Not rated, 90 minutes
"Human Centipede's" shock value wears thin
I had the opportunity to see the horror film "The Human Centipede (First Sequence)" recently during it's extended run in Dallas. I had heard much about the shocking nature of the film and it's true that some parts of it are genuinely disturbing and very difficult to watch. However, once the shock value wears off, it only reveals that there wasn't much to the film to begin with.
During a stopover in Germany in the middle of a carefree road trip through Europe, two American girls (Ashlynn Yennie and Ashley Williams, in their film debut) find themselves alone at night when their car breaks down in the woods. Searching for help they find only an isolated villa, whose mysterious owner, Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser), takes them in for the night. The next day they awake to find themselves in the basement, trapped in a terrifying makeshift hospital with another one of the doctor's abductees (Akihiro Kitamura). Dr Heiter explains to his three "patients" they are not about to be separated, but joined together in a horrific operation. He plans to be the first to connect people, one to the next, via their gastric system, and in doing so bring to life his sick lifetime fantasy: "the human centipede."
"The Human Centipede," directed by Dutch director Tom Six and filmed in the Netherlands, is a film that's all about the shock value and little else. The unsettling premise may remind of what horror film directors like David Cronenberg or Eli Roth would do, but it also may make some ill (especially in one scene involving defecation). It especially grows tiresome as the film goes on, with very little to do with the human centipede after it has been created except walk it around and beat on it. As the demented German doctor, Laser is the best actor in the film, though the two actresses are considerably whiny and annoying.
It's also no mistake that the horrific doctor is German; he's obviously making a statement regarding Nazi atrocities and it becomes a little heavy-handed in the film's last section, which becomes more of a crime mystery than a horror film. "The Human Centipede" has gained a cult following in the festival circuit, and it could continue as it gains more word-of-mouth; with this in mind Six is also supposedly working on a sequel to the film.
"The Human Centipede" carries some disturbing images but just know it isn't an altogether pleasant movie-going experience. Some horror film enthusiasts may want to take a gander to see what it's all about, but it's a disappointment considering the hype for the film.