Some films get talked about because of the quality of their scripts or power of their performances. Some films get talked about because of the technical razzle-dazzle on display or the beauty of the imagery. Then you get films like what is perhaps the most talked-about film of the year, Tom Six’s The Human Centipede. And it is talked about for three words, really.
Mouth. To. Anus.
The core concept immediately defines whether this is a movie of interest to you or not. When two American girls (Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie) fall afoul of a mad German surgeon named Josef Heiter (Dieter Laser) who promptly stitches them together lips-to-arsehole and then to the arse of a Japanese man (Akihiro Kitamura), creating a three-person ‘human centipede’ sharing a single digestive system.
Unfortunately for The Human Centipede, it really has little else to offer beyond the lurid nature of its central conceit.
Six does show considerable visual ability. His camera is constantly prowling, with smooth dolly and crane shots depicting a clean, almost antiseptic environment. A cold beauty is evident throughout the movie and it is shot with no small skill, belying its relatively low budget. Production design is careful and crisp, echoing the choice of cinematography.
Unfortunately, the more organic aspects of the movie are less successful. The script plays out in a predictable fashion, only kicking into gear once the nature of the centipede is revealed. Prior to that, proceedings are laboured in the extreme, with the two girls being highly irritating characters saddled with bad dialogue, stupid decision-making and giving grating performances. It is a merciful release to have them sewn to arses just for the silence.
In the DVD extras, Six talks about how difficult it was to find actresses willing to take on the parts and possibly this, combined with English not being Six’s first language, may be the cause for this awkwardness.
Opposite them, however, Dieter Laser is a compelling presence. Although not always convincing, he is never less than eye-catching with his emaciated look bringing to mind Christopher Walken with a German accent. He twitches and glares his way through the movie, chewing up the scenery and reducing the other parts to mere support. By making the villain the centrepiece in this manner, the film sacrifices tension or any attempt at scares.
Ultimately, The Human Centipede is pretty much just the central idea. Well shot and entertaining enough, it feels too lightweight to be compelling and never fully engages. For the more seasoned cult fim viewer who does not have a visceral reaction to the chain of arse-suckers, this is not really worth the attention.
- Director’s Commentary
- Making Of
- Tom Six Interviews
- Tom Six/Dieter Laser Q&A Session
- Deleted Scene
- Casting Session
- Foley Session