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The Human Centipede (2010, Netherlands)

17/03/2011

Director: Tom Six    Starring: Dieter Laser, Ashley C Williams, Ashlyne Yennie

One word sums up the entire Human Centipede experience. “Why?” Why did I take the time to watch it? Why did anybody take the time to make it? Why did anybody sign the necessary cheques to ensure it’s production? Why should I even care? It feels wrong to give it the time of day. I get the sense that like an unruly child Tom Six isn’t too bothered about what kind of attention he gets from this endeavour as long as he gets some kind of attention. Sadly, having endured the entire 92 minutes of its running time, I feel obligated to get a few things off my chest. It seems a little pointless to describe what follows as containing spoilers – I find it hard to comprehend how anything I say could spoil this film more than Tom Six has managed to do.

If for some unknown reason you are not familiar with the film it has a fairly simple, if highly unsavoury, plot. Two American girls get lost in the German countryside and knock on the door of the sinister Dr Heiter in their search for help. After a dose of Rohypnol they find themselves two thirds of Heiter’s crazed medical experiment to make a three person human centipede by stitching them together, mouth to anus. And that’s it. Really. There’s not much else to it. At one point two bumbling cops show up to save the day and make a bit of a pig’s ear of it.

To suggest it’s a flawed film is a gross understatement. The most glaring error comes with the fact that it gives its own game away from the outset. As a supposedly shocking device, the “centipede” should have been the big reveal, an ultimate and hideous conclusion to the action, preferrably taking you by surprise in a spectacular and horrific climax. Instead it becomes the selling point, a gaudy advertisement for how shocked and appalled you will be by the grotesque spectacle of such an original and depraved concept. Foolishly the “reveal” comes at the halfway point. The latter half of the film is a pointless epilogue of voyeurism while we watch the hapless victims of the evil doctor struggle with their new conjoined reality. It isnt outrageous and stomach churning, it’s just boring and lacking any substance at all.

The attempt to reinvigorate proceedings by having the police call at the door in search of the missing girls is a little misjudged, their arrival being improbable and their behaviour being just plain stupid. I don’t know where they learned their trade, but their slapstick mincing when they are searching the building, weapons drawn is as absurd as the rest of the film. I don’t know if this is deliberate in an effort to be funny or if it’s just some seriously piss poor acting but either way it’s hugely annoying. Not as annoying as the two girls who end up stitched together on the rectum of a (somewhat random!) Japanese man. Here is another of the film’s major stumbling blocks. Not only do you not care that these young ladies are going to fall foul of Heiter’s diabolical plan you are actively willing him to stitch their mouths to some hapless person’s rear end if only to shut them up. Horror 101 – if you want your audience to be shocked, appalled, horrified, scared or even remotely on edge about what is going on you need to make your main characters (read: victims) sympathetic and likeable. The Hostel level contempt you have for the main protagonists is seriously damaging to any hopes of generating a sense of threat or menace.

The performances are appalling, although what could you expect from people who had agreed to spend half the running time with their nose buried in the crack of another actor’s ass? But then why should they make an effort? Given a script with almost zero story and apparently no direction whatsoever who can blame them for not really caring about what they do?  I really don’t think I’ve ever seen a more pointless film. The fact it was conceived as an extension of a glib remark about how paedophiles should be punished is entirely apparent in it’s soulless, substanceless, hateful existence. If you have not seen it save yourself the bother and don’t. It is mind bogglingly worthless and serves only as a warning to others that it takes more than an unpleasant set piece to make a film.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. 19/03/2011 02:36

    Thanks for the warning but you are preaching to the converted. I have not watched this film as I can’t get past the starting (and, apparently, ending premise). It just sounds nasty. Really nasty. As you ask – why?

    I sorrow when I think that the money that went into this film did not get into another more worthwhile (but probably unfunded and therefore unmade) film.

    • 19/03/2011 12:55

      Believe me that is the right approach.

      If I’m being completely honest my issue is less with the premise and more with the fact that it’s all there is – such a badly executed film should never have seen the light of day. I’ve only got myself to blame for having to endure it, it was predictably bad.

      I wouldn’t say this often but nobody should watch this film. Ever. Not even for a laugh. Not because its shocking, horrific and unpleasant (I’ve watched a lot worse in that respect) but because it’s dull and amateurish. An hour and a half of your life you will never get back.

      • 20/03/2011 06:32

        Fair comment – if the film is not just nasty but also completely bereft of craft and creativity then there really is no reason for anyone to watch it. I hope your next viewing experience makes up for the Human Centipede

      • 20/03/2011 11:57

        Andygeddon: Enduring the turgid so you don’t have to!

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