The Human Centipede (First Sequence)
Film review by: Witney Seibold
You’ve probably heard about this little German oddity for months. Y’know, that effed-up film that has a mad scientist sewing three people together by their digestive tracts, anus-to-mouth? That’s the one. I’m not sure what I can say about this film that you don’t already know from the description. It is effed-up, it has a mad scientist, and it does indeed feature three people sewn together, ass-to-mouth. It goes into a pornographic level of mechanical accuracy rarely seen outside of med school educational videos. The film’s poster claims that it is “100% Medically Accurate.” That’s not a phrase I want to see on any film poster. It’s pretty much as you’d expect.
As a film, “The Human Centipede” barely registers. There are no real plot points, there’s no real drama, and there’s even no real explanation as to why the mad scientist, Dr. Heiter (a hugely game Dieter Laser) wants to complete this bizarro experiment of his. The three people in the centipede, Akihiro Kitamura, Ashley C. Williams, and Ashlynn Yennie, aren’t given any sort of backstory (they’re all merely kidnapped), and have little character, other than to make us wince at their suffering. There are no warnings or morals. Only one of them can talk, and he only screams in Japanese, giving “the Human Centipede” a surreal bent. Well, more surreal than the premise already provides. The film mostly serves to induce squirms of yucky discomfort. There is a scene of coprophagy, but director Tom Six has mercifully excised all on-screen fecal matter.
I have to give props to the actors. To be willing to be in such intimate contact with their fellow actors was probably a chore that few actors would be willing to commit. As for Laser, he chomps into his role with a level of professional aplomb rarely seen in genre entertainment. There were times when I really believed he wanted to make a human centipede.
This is not a film. This is a geekshow. This is not a drama. It’s an intentional curiosity. It’s meant not to stir any heavy emotions, tap into fears, or let us relate to the on-screen suffering in an artistic attempt to help us exorcize out own demons. It’s meant to make us wince in visceral disgust, laugh in outrage, and be physically disturbed. Seeing as it serves and a geekshow, I will have judge it on that basis.
I’m not going to rant about the motivations of the filmmakers, or why they would bother to make a film so disgusting and so fucked-up; there have been gross-out oddities all throughout film history, from “Freaks” to “Mondo Cane,” to “Salò” to “Pink Flamingos,” all of which serve less as legit dramas, and more as dares to the college kids going to see them (well, “Salò” can be interpreted as a comment on fascism, but it’s still legitimately disgusting). That “The Human Centipede” can warrant comparison to some of these only serve to show how successful it was as a neo-geekshow. It truly has the gumption to follow through with its twisted idea, and actually has the moxie to point a camera at the gory mechanics of making a human centipede. As a friend of mine succinctly put it: “It delivers.”
Tom Six has evidently already planned a sequel, where the centipede will be twelve people long, and “will make the First Sequence seem like ‘My Little Pony.’” I don’t doubt his claims. “The Human Centipede” is currently making the rounds on the Midnight Movie circuit, where it has been selling out across the country. Will you enjoy it? If you get earnest enjoyment from this film, I think I may be a little afraid of you. But if you’re familiar with its notoriety, and are curious enough to get blitzed and go with a bunch of friends in the middle of the night, I cannot dissuade you. I dare you, in fact.