Revisiting – The Human Centipede (2009)

Posted on by Cheekerson

By Nathan Peterson

Starring: Dieter Laser, Ashley C Williams, Ashlynn Yennie

Original Score: 3 out of 5

This heart warming rom-com about a centipede who dreams of being a human……ah, who am I kiddin’, by now y’all know what this film is about, and if you don’t, you probably don’t want to.  Before we start, SPOILER ALERT! Yup, this may spoil your breakfast!

I originally watched The Human Centipede a couple of years ago, when it hit these shores on DVD.  When I first put it on my list of films to watch, I will admit I knew very little about what the movie was.  I just remember hearing buzz about it from the horror festivals, and seeing the rather striking poster.  It wasn’t until shortly before I actually watched the movie, did I learn it’s premise, and see a trailer.  As the kind of guy who likes to experiment in films, my intrigue was intensified by what was being promised as a disturbing couple of hours.  Surely this would test my movie-manhood?

Now I won’t say that I was disappointed by the final film, (I mean, how sick would I have to be!), but for me I can’t say it was as shocking as I had heard.  But what is important is that after stripping away the so-called disturbing moment, I still had a blast with it first time around, and since then have tried to get others to watch it, only for them to be too disgusted with the idea to sit down and give it a go……..until now.

As a self-confessed horror fan, and having heard about The Human Centipede both from me and other people, my girlfriend wanted to sit down and see what it was all about.  I decided to join her to see how it held up to a second viewing.

As with most of my reviews I am gonna start with the acting.  The performances in the first 15 minutes from the two lead female characters (Williams and Yennie) ranks amongst the worst acting I have ever seen.  Whilst I don’t necessarily remember it being of Citizen Kane quality, I certainly don’t remember acting that would be harshly judged by independent p*rn makers!  In fact, given the position that these girls find themselves later on the film, face to ass as it were, I wouldn’t even be surprised to find out that they are p*rn actresses!

If their abysmal portrayal of two young American tourists in Germany had continued past the first few scenes, I am pretty sure I would have turned this bad boy off.  the head of the centipede, Akihiro Kitamura, also suffers from some pretty bad acting, however he is unfortunate enough to have a speaking part throughout, and therefore remains atrocious for the entire movie.  Luckily, as his parts are all in Japanese, it is somehow easier to bear.

But you know what?  I don’t care about any of them because Dieter Laser’s performance as the crazy Dr Heiter is so good.  Just like the retired surgeon, I view these characters as little more than a means to an end.  Whilst there are a number of negatives one can point at The Human Centipede, Laser is a shining light and arguably gives one of the most eye-catching performances in modern horror.  From his mock-Christopher Walken look, to his sudden mood swings, Laser has certainly created something quite vile.

For an independent horror movie, Tom Six also does quite well in writing and directing.  Probably as much due to editing as anything, I quite like that Six has left most of the really disturbing moments as implied rather than seen directly.  It forces the viewer to imagine themselves in the poor victims’ position rather than just throwing blood and gore in your face.

Ok, but how does it hold up to a second viewing though?  Pretty well actually.  Although any shock that I did experience the first time around was pretty much gone in the second sitting, I still really enjoy this film, and I have come to think of it more as a dark comedy than an outright horror.  In fact, as The Human Centipede is less about jumpy moments and more about creating a distressing picture in the viewers mind, the scares I think will stick with you through a few viewings.

The only real moments of any gore come towards the end when, as you might expect, Tom Six ups the ante for the finale.  For me, the very final scene is arguably the most terrifying of all, as we are left with the image of the middle member of the centipede trapped between two “dead ends”.  Does she survive?  Having not yet had the opportunity to see the sequel, I am none the wiser as to whether the events continue from this or are completely disjointed.  How refreshing it is for the good looking heroine not to get away happily ever after, though.

Whilst I will happily admit this film will be difficult viewing for many, overall it doesn’t shock as much as it could and isn’t really that much worse than most horrors on the market.  Indeed, films such as A Serbian Film, or even the rape scene in Irreversible are much more moving and harder to swallow (poor choice of words, perhaps).

If you have the stomach, give this a go as I think it is original enough to deserve your attention.  Even on the second watch it was “enjoyable” and that is not something that can be said for every film.

New Score: 3 out of 5 (still)

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