A lot of criticism has been aimed at Dutch director Tom Six even with his new film, The Human Centipede (First Sequence), winning awards at both the Austin Fantastic Fest and Screamfest. This also includes a much deserved win for star Dieter Laser, who serves up one of the scariest doctors portrayed onscreen since Hannibal Lecter was unleashed upon audiences. Kudos are deserved all around however, after you see what director Six puts the rest of his cast through to a tragic ending rarely seen in horror as of late, yet sorely lacking.
Dr. Heiter (Laser) is in mourning. We meet him on the side of the road, sitting in his car weeping and caressing a picture of what is immediately clear to be three rottweilers that would simply appear to be sniffing each other’s behinds if the premise of the film wasn’t being broadcast around the Internet. Next, we meet Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie), two ditzy American girls out looking for a good time in Germany. They make a phone call to a friend and we learn that they’ve been invited to a party by some random guy they met while touring.
The two girls get lost on a deserted road in the rain and their tire blows out. While tromping through the woods looking for help they spy a light up ahead, bringing them to the home of Dr. Heiter. Heiter invites them in; at first, the two girls believe Heiter to be helpful but quickly learn, after he drugs their water, that the former conjoined twin separator has a new agenda. Lindsay and Jenny soon wake up in a sterile operating room in Heiter’s basement, quickly joined by a Japanese man, Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura), after Heiter puts down the first male as he did not fit into Heiter’s equation. One can only wonder if it was because the man was so much larger than the two girls.
Once the three are fully awake Heiter begins a lecture and slide show enlightening the trio that they are his means to an end. You see, Heiter has developed a bad case of the ego and wants more out of his expertise than simply continuing to separate twins. He has decided to join three humans into one, combining their digestive tract into one and conjoining them to form the creature of the film’s title, giving the term “ass-to-mouth” a whole new meaning.
A film of this ilk is quickly reminiscent of such Hollywood fare as Eli Roth’s two Hostel films centered around torture porn semantics in a xenophobic setting, but The Human Centipede is nowhere near as bad as everyone assumes or makes it sound. So much is left to the imagination and left offscreen that it can’t help but make you wonder more about the people complaining. Not that this film is one someone would openly admit to having enjoyed. However, you know what they say about opinions… oh wait, that just brings us back to the film at hand.
In the sad current state of the horror genre chock full of remakes, reboots, retreads, reimaginings, etc., someone finally gives us something new, albeit maybe more disgusting in concept than execution and everyone immediately revolts. Maybe that should be worthy of praise to director Tom Six in and of itself. The events that happen onscreen are in no way worse than anything we've seen a million times before in our horror movies not to mention with high caliber stars, directors, and writers attached, no less.
While it may not be for everyone, including hardcore genre fans, I think you probably made up your mind before you even considered reading this review whether you want to see it or not. However, I can attest that as a horror film, The Human Centipede (First Sequence) certainly stands on its own and delivers exactly what it promises. This really makes you wonder how Six could possibly raise the stakes as the sequel, subtitled Full Sequence, begins filming this summer.
Photo courtesy IFC Films