Director – Tom Six
Cast – Dieter Laser, Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie, Akihiro Kitamura, Andreas Leupold, Peter Blankenstein
Release Year – 2009
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Well now that Paranormal Activity has come and gone, another film has taken over the position of “Most Hyped Horror Film”, and that is The Human Centipede (First Sequence). Could it be that this film claims to be 100% medically accurate? Maybe, but I doubt it. So why is this film from the Netherlands generating so much buzz? Well…simply put, this film gives us elements of horror never before seen on neither the Indie nor the National level, and after reading this film’s plot you will see what I mean. Prepare for goose bumps.
The Human Centipede (First Sequence) follows Lindsay and Jenny, two young American women traveling through Europe. One night while traveling on a lonely road in Germany their car suffers a flat tire, and despite this being the 21st century neither of the girls knows how to change the tire. They try their luck at calling the rental car company, but the lonely road lacks cell phone service. Reluctantly, the girls leave their vehicle in search of a way to contact their rental car company and come across a nice home deep in the woods. They are greeted by a creepy old man, but desperation kicks in and the girls decide to ask him to use his phone. The next morning the girls wake up in hospital beds next to another person they have never seen before. Little did the girls know, the owner of the home is a retired surgeon who found fame in separating Siamese twins, and now has the “patients” to complete his lifelong dream: combining three people via their gastric systems into a “human centipede”.
I am so glad that I watched this film. Why? Because the horror in this film is real horror, and it gives me something I have never seen before in the horror realm. Crazed doctors experimenting on live human subjects have been done before, but never to the extent of this film. Most of the time it is the “re-animation” theme like we saw in Re-animator, and seldom a “re-creation” theme like we get in this film. Simply put, this film’s plot is one of the most horrific I have ever seen or even heard of, and it shows the “guts“(hah) writer/director Tom Six has to put out a film like this, and I thank him for doing so.
Right from the get-go this film had my attention, and it never relented throughout the 90 minute runtime. It takes off like any other “backwoods killer” type horror film, but once the girls get to the home of Dr. Heiter this flick heads in its own direction, and with gruesome results. If there was ever a “Creepiest Doctor of All Time” award, it would have to go to Dr. Heiter, hands down. Actor Dieter Laser’s performance as Dr. Heiter was brilliant and he expertly portrayed this brash yet cunning doctor who would stop at nothing to complete his life’s work, creating a human centipede. We are not given much information behind Dr. Heiter, and I did not mind it one bit. Would it have been nice? Maybe. Was it required though? Not at all.
Once Dr. Heiter hit’s the screen our “lead” characters Lindsay and Jenny turn into “supporting” characters, which I actually enjoyed given they were unlikable and Dr. Heiter was obviously the intended star of the film. We get another character, a Japanese loud-mouth named Katsuro(Akihiro Kitamura) who provides the comic relief in the film. Yes, there is comic relief in this film, and I found it great because it definitely plays with your emotions with the fact that you are laughing/giggling at some hard-to-watch scenes that you should not be laughing about, unless you are a sick jerk like me(my friends as well).
So lets get to the real “star” of the film…the human centipede. When I said earlier that I enjoyed this film because the horror was real and I was given something I had never seen before, I really meant it. Just the idea of a “human centipede” being created is shocking, and the shock is exemplified when you actually see it take place on screen. Some of you will find comfort in that most of the squeamish scenes are left off screen, and for two reasons: 1. You don’t have to see it, and 2. You get to imagine what is happening yourself. Personally, I enjoyed the squeamish scenes being left off screen for the second reason, as I am always a fan of “freak yourself out” type horror. Thankfully, the finished “product” of the experiment is not hidden off-screen and we get many scenes involving the centipede. I could explain some of the inner workings of the centipede, but I would rather you just watch the film for yourself because I am sure that too much information will lessen the shock you will face.
The horror kicks in pretty quickly as well, so there was not as much development as I was expecting to see, and that was both good and bad. It was good because the horror is good, but it was bad in a sense because it did cause the film to slow down a bit during the end of the second act. That brings on my one and only real knock against this film, it slows down instead of keeping up the tension. These slow parts still captivated me because we got a fair amount of centipede action, but I did feel that it was unnecessary for this film to slow down so much given we weren’t given anything significant for it story/development-wise. Some naysayers of this film have balked over the film’s execution, and I can see why. Some scenes are a bit quirky, but I will not go as far as to say that they bothered me. Because this is a film from the Netherlands, I cannot simply watch this film the way that I would a US/Italian/French horror film, and for all I know(I am not an expert of Netherland horror) this is how these guys make their films. Go into this film with an open mind, and this should not be a problem for you.
Overall, this is a shocking and awesome horror film simply because it brings us what we all yearn to see in these films…horror! The plot is incredible, the villain is an awesome one, and whether you enjoy this film or not you are sure to be left with an experience you will never forget.