Future generations of moviegoers might divide this generation of moviegoers into those who were brave/foolish/curious enough to actually go see The Human Centipede and those who weren’t. This is less a movie than it is the film equivalent of being dared to eat haggis. I’ve awarded it a fairly noncommittal three stars. Is the concept disgusting? Without a doubt. And that may be enough in this case.
I wasn’t particularly shocked—I don’t shock easily and really didn’t expect to be. I was only moderately entertained a good deal of the time, but I saw the film on a screener in the privacy of my living room. I can imagine being significantly more entertained by seeing it with an audience. I’ve had two weeks of watching horror fans at the Thursday Horror Picture Show react to the trailer for The Human Centipede, and they seemed to take it as a spectacularly tasteless and ridiculous joke. Seeing it with that crowd, or even seeing it with an audience overcome with revulsion, I’m betting would be utterly unwholesome fun—in a singularly twisted way, mind you.
The Human Centipede—which we are assured is “100% medically accurate”—is all about a mad scientist, Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser), who has the inexplicable (apart from his assertion, “I hate human beings”) and remarkably inhospitable notion of creating a “human centipede.” It seems he did this once before with three Rottweilers—referred to on the animals’ tombstone (must’ve turned out badly) as “My sweet Three Dog”—and he is ready to do try it with three humans. Now, since they’re to share one digestive tract, there’s only one way they can be connected. I suppose it would be kind of like being anything other than lead dog on a sled team—only a lot worse.
OK, so yeah, people being sewn together mouth-to-anus is reasonably gross, but director Tom Six ups the nastiness slightly by doing something unclear—but clearly unpleasant—to the mouths of numbers two and three of this decidedly shortchanged (in the leg department) centipede, and cutting some tendons in the knees to make them crawl around on all fours. But take this beyond the central idea and envision just exactly what one can do with such a creation. Once you’ve made it/them shuffle around on command, what can they do? Not much.
And that’s the problem with the movie. The three victims—a Japanese man (Akihiro Kitamura) in the lead and two annoying American girls (Ashley C. Williams and Ashlynn Yennie) bringing up the rear—get hooked together by the 30-minute mark and it’s pretty much a case of them being all sewn up with nowhere to go. Well, there’s a gross-out moment when the first segment/human is compelled to answer the call of nature, but whether or not that’s a plus is up to you. These reservations to one side, the film does rouse itself to a moderately suspenseful climax that finally delivers some splattery action.
Is it worth seeing? Assuming you’re up to the disgusting factor, probably for the sake of curiosity it is. Also, it topples over into the so-bad-it’s-good realm enough to be entertaining, especially as concerns the acting—what there is of it. The two girls have no problem debasing themselves for the camera, but they can’t act (despite the IMDb’s claim that Ashley C. Williams graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts). The honors, such as they are, go to Dieter Laser’s mad doctor, who looks like a cross between Christopher Walken and Udo Kier playing Dr. No—and not making a good job of it. But Laser is so outrageously over-the-top bad that he is pretty funny. That may or may not be the intent. There are hints that the movie is a deliberate parody in the earlier portions, but the tone is too inconsistent to be sure.
If you want to be able to tell your friends that you saw The Human Centipede, take note that it’s only down for three shows: the last set of the evening on Thursday, July 8, through Saturday, July 10, at Carolina Cinemas, and a strict policy of no admission to anyone under the age of 18 will be in place. Of course, the shows might be extended depending on how attendance is, but since, at best, this is for specialized tastes, I would slink on down to one of the three currently scheduled shows if interested in catching the film on the big screen. Not rated, but contains nudity, graphic violence, language and a stomach-turning premise.