I first learned about The Human Centipede (First Sequence) last year while reading /Film’s coverage of Fright Fest 2009. I was immediately intrigued, and simultaneously disgusted. The phrase “human centipede” is probably, in and of itself, enough to truly sicken the squeamish. Further reading of the plot, which involves victims being grafted together, ass-to-mouth, is enough to disturb even those of us with stronger constitutions. (I’m guessing this is the point where I’ve lost some of that squeamish bunch.)
However, in spite of the intrigue, I couldn’t really bring myself to go see Human Centipede in theaters. The disturbing images conjured up in my mind by the title alone made we wary of seeing what was actually in store for me on the big screen. Of course, as time went on, I read more and more about the film, then it came out as a redbox rental and my morbid curiosity got the best of me.
Sadly (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), director Tom Six’s “100% medically accurate” body-horror/torture-porn is all filler, no thriller… which is a kind of blessing in disguise for those brave enough to watch a film called “The Human Centipede.” Much like the far more visually disturbing Hostel, Six’s film deals with naive, young American tourists vacationing in Europe.
Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie) are two rich, ditsy woo-girls taking a road trip across Europe. Their night out clubbing ends prematurely when their car breaks down in the middle of the nowhere. Seeking help, they stumble upon the extremely ominous Dr. Heiter’s (Dieter Laser) villa (and we’re talking Angus “Tall Man” Scrimm ominous).
Unfortunately for them, Dr. Heiter is a brilliantly twisted surgeon, renowned for separating conjoined twins, who also happens to hate human beings and has decided to create the world’s first Siamese triplet. He drugs the girls and the nightmare begins. Lindsay and Jenny wake up confined to hospital beds and watch in horror as Dr. Heiter kills another of his “patients” who “doesn’t match.” Once Dr. Heiter finds a match, a Japanese business man, he lets his “patients” in on his plan: “creating a Siamese triplet, connected via the gastric system. Ingestion by A, passing through B, to the excretion of C. The human centipede…”
Again, on paper it does all sound horrifying and disgusting. And it is. But, the film itself was really boring. Once you get past the premise of a human centipede being created by grafting people together ass-to-mouth, it’s all downhill. Nothing in the film is anywhere near as disturbing as what I had imagined when I first heard about the film. Lindsay and Jenny are beyond annoying, after the first 20 minutes of them whining and bickering, you almost look forward to them being grafted together, unable to talk. Though, the constant whimpering once they are connected is pretty unsettling.
All in all, Human Centipede isn’t the gory, messy, visceral puke-fest I expected, which I’m kinda glad about. (There are already enough disturbing things that I can’t un-see.) But at the same time, I was disappointed. I expected more. I expected to be sickened almost to the point of actually being physically ill. And the ultimate moment of truth (read: feeding time) is extremely anti-climactic. Once they’re grafted together, we know that after the first segment eats it’s only a matter of time before he “feeds” the second segment, but as Six presents it, it isn’t anywhere near as disturbing as the thought of it.
Also, how can you possibly be saved from being a human centipede? Your knee-caps are removed, so you’re always on all-fours and you’re grafted to two other people. Where can you really go from there? I feel like it’s a very one-note film, as though Tom Six was stoned with some friends one night, playing a game of “would you rather” and said, “Wouldn’t it be fucked up if three people were grafted together ass-to-mouth, creating a Siamese triplet, connected via the gastric system.” Yes, it would be.